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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

‘Sand Nativity’ scene to display in St Peter’s Square

Although sand castles and sculptures usually conjure up images of hot summers on the beach, the Vatican will unveil a massive Nativity scene made entirely of sand during the cold Roman winter.

According to the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, the Nativity scene displayed in St Peter’s Square will feature a 52-foot wide sand sculpture from Jesolo, an Italian seaside resort town roughly 40 miles north of Venice.

The intricate sculpture, along with a 42-foot-tall red spruce tree donated by the Diocese of Concordia-Pordenone in the northern Italian region of Veneto, will be unveiled at the Vatican’s annual tree lighting ceremony on 7th December.

Bas-relief sand sculptures, like the one that will be featured in St Peter’s Square, are a tradition in Jesolo which, since 1998, has been the home of an annual sand sculpture festival.

At the helm of the sculpture project, dubbed the ‘Sand Nativity’, is US sculptor Rich Varano from New Smyrna Beach, Florida.

According to the city’s website for the Nativity scene, Varano is an accomplished sand sculptor with over 40 years’ experience and has organised various international sand sculpture festivals, including the annual event in Jesolo.

Picture: A depiction of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem sculpted from sand is displayed in the Italian resort town of Jesolo in December 2017. Jesolo will donate a 52-foot wide Nativity scene made entirely of highly compressed sand to the Vatican. The sculpture will be unveiled during the Vatican’s annual tree lighting ceremony on 7th December. (CNS photo/Jesolo Tourism Office).