Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Vatican Christmas Tree, A Gift from Lower Austria

VATICAN CITY, 10 DEC 2008 (VIS) - On Friday 12 December the Holy Father will receive a delegation from the region of Lower Austria led by Erwin Proll, governor of the region, and accompanied by 1,000 pilgrims, for the donation of the Christmas tree which will decorate St. Peter's Square during the festive season this year.

A communique released today explains that, apart from the main tree, Lower Austria has also donated around 40 smaller trees which will be used to decorate the Paul VI Hall, the Clementine Hall, the Pontifical Apartments and various offices of the Roman Curia.

The lighting ceremony of the tree in the square, a Norway spruce 33 metres high from the municipality of Gutenstein, will take place at 4.30 p.m. on Saturday 13 December. The tree, which has been decorated with more than 2,000 baubles and a large star, will be lit by a boy from the Altenburg Choir in the course of a brief ceremony due to be presided by Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, president of the Governorate of Vatican City State, accompanied by Bishop Renato Boccardo, secretary general of the Governorate. Austrian government representatives and pilgrims will participate in the event, during which musicians and singers from Ziersdorf and Altenburg will provide musical accompaniment.

The Christmas decorations in St. Peter's Square will be completed on the evening of 24 December with the unveiling of the nativity scene located at the centre of the square. The scene of Jesus' birth, which dominates centre stage, is this year located under a temporary structure of wooden planks in the lee of "walls of Bethlehem". The setting on the outskirts of the town is emphasised by the presence of a watchtower, by a large gateway that serves as backdrop to the Nativity, and by humble dwellings stretching along the walls themselves. The scene is populated by a series of statuesque figures, some of which come from the nativity scene created by St. Vincent Pallotti in the Roman church of Sant'Andrea della Valle in 1842.

As is the case every year, the nativity scene was created by the Technical Services of the Governorate of Vatican City State, while the erection and decoration of the spruce tree was undertaken by Vatican workmen.


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