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

Christmas spirit in the air as Vatican unveils Nativity scene, tree

The annual unveiling of the Vatican’s Christmas tree and Nativity scene brought some much-needed warmth to people’s hearts as winter approached.

Hundreds of people in St Peter’s Square applauded as white curtains unfurled, on 7th December, revealing a 52-foot wide artistic representation of Jesus’ birth made entirely of sand and dubbed the ‘Sand Nativity’.

The bas-relief sculpture, which weighed over 700 tons, was made with sand from Jesolo, an Italian seaside resort town roughly 40 miles north of Venice.

Shortly after, as the sun set behind St Peter’s Basilica, the sounds of Silent Night filled the square before the lights of the Vatican’s towering Christmas tree were lit.

The 42-foot-tall red spruce tree, donated by the Diocese of Concordia-Pordenone in the northern Italian region of Veneto, was unveiled at the Vatican’s annual tree lighting ceremony.

Among those present at the annual Christmas tree lighting were Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, president of the commission governing Vatican City State; Archbishop Francesco Moraglia, patriarch of Venice; and Bishop Giuseppe Pellegrini of Concordia-Pordenone.

The ‘Sand Nativity’ scene and tree will remain in St Peter’s Square until the feast of the Baptism of the Lord on 13th January.

Picture: The Christmas tree and ‘Sand Nativity’ are seen after a tree-lighting ceremony in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican on 7th December. (CNS photo/Paul Haring).