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The Rev. George Schmidt of Bird Island talks about a piece from his Fontanni nativity set Dec. 18 in the basement of his home. A priest at St. Mary's Catholic Church, Schmidt's 600-piece miniature biblical metropolis boasts hundreds of figurines, structures, flora and fauna. Tribune photos by Ron Adams

Away in a basement, nativity set grows

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Each figure in the Rev. George Schmit's Fontanini nativity set stands only five inches tall, but his entire collection is no little town of Bethlehem.


His Fontanini nativity set collection began as a simple crèche handed down to the Bird Island priest of St. Mary's Catholic Church nearly 20 years ago from a parishioner at his former parish in New Ulm.

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