Monday, December 15, 2008

Benedict XVI: I See and Enjoy the Christmas Tree from My Window - Pope Blesses Statues of Baby Jesus


Monday, December 15, 2008

For the first time in days, Saturday dawned clear and bright and with indescribably blue skies which gave new hope to all of us that the weeks of rain might be coming to an end. It has rained so much and so hard for so long that the Tiber River has reached its highest level – and a dangerous one – in years, coming close at a few points in the city to overflowing its banks. Reports say the Tiber has risen at least 40 feet, and in many parts of the city it flooded garages, basements, and underground roadways, to mention but a few of the areas that have been struck.

The respite from rain Saturday was short-lived. By 1:30 the skies had turned gray and threatening and not long afterwards the heavens opened up. In fact, it absolutely poured throughout the nearly hour-long tree lighting ceremony in St. Peter’s Square in late afternoon. I stayed, not because it was a smart thing to stand in the pouring rain and cold or because I generally enjoy this ceremony but most of all because I wanted to get some photos for this column!

Sunday also dawned fairly sunny but once again that did not last. And today it has poured all day.

Sunday was interesting because, as I was returning home from Mass at Santa Susanna’s in the center of Rome and our bus was nearing the Vatican, I saw thousands of people streaming out of St. Peter’s Square and across the Tiber as they too were returning home after the Pope’s Angelus. By the hundreds they stopped on the bridges crossing the Tiber just to take photos of a river without banks, without the sidewalk areas where people jog and ride bikes, a river where immense trees were half under water or bent in half and clogging the waterways under the bridges, especially the Sant’Angelo bridge near Castel Sant’Angelo where special workmen had to come in and clear the debris. I was sorry I did not have my own camera yesterday morning.

But, as you can see below, I did have my camera Saturday afternoon for the tree-lighting ceremony. The nativity scene will be unveiled, as is customary, on Christmas Eve, and I’ll bring that to you when I return from my Christmas trip. I was stunned today to see workers clad in heavy rain gear continuing to build the presepio in St. Peter’s Square – I guess it is like the U.S. Postal Service motto: neither rain nor sleet nor snow….


Pope Benedict Saturday received a delegation of civil officials and religious leaders from the region of Lower Austria who accompanied 850 faithful and a gigantic spruce tree that was donated to the Vatican to be placed in St. Peter’s Square for Christmas. He thanked the Austrians for the tree, and the 40 smaller ones that will decorate rooms in the Apostolic Palace, “including my office,” he added. Trees will also be placed in the Paul VI and Clementine Halls, and other curia offices.

Benedict XVI said “the Christmas tree in coming weeks will bring great joy to Romans and the many pilgrims who come to the Eternal City from throughout the world to celebrate the birth of Christ. I will also be able to see it from my window and I will enjoy it anew each time when from on high I look down upon the tree and the nativity scene.” The Pope told his guests he too would “have occasion to directly visit the crib and pray before the child Jesus and rejoice in the light and beauty of the tree.”


Post a Comment

<< Home