Thursday, December 24, 2009
Pope Benedict XVI holds up a candle at the window of his private apartment to celebrate the unveiling of the nativity scene in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican December 24, 2009.
Photograph by: Max Rossi, Reuters
Victoria Times Colonist
AFP December 24, 2009 11:02 AM
VATICAN city -- Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday appeared at a window of his Vatican apartment to mark the unveiling of the traditional Christmas creche in St Peter's Square below.
About 1,000 people gathered in the famous piazza applauded as the pope lit a candle, symbol of peace.
Benedict's predecessor John Paul II began the tradition of setting up the creche in St Peter's Square in 1982 in a tribute to the rich Italian tradition of creche-building and the zeal and artistry involved.
Flanked by a giant Christmas tree, the illuminated structure 25 metres (yards) wide depicts the nativity of Jesus Christ, believed by Christians to be the son of God, whose birth is commemorated on Christmas Day.
Some of the figurines in this year's creche date from the mid-19th century.
The sundown event came a few hours before the pontiff was to celebrate Christmas Eve mass in the basilica.