Nativity Scene and Christmas Tree at St. Peter’s Opens Friday

The Lighting Will Be Turned On by the President and Secretary of the Governorate. Underneath the Colonnade Is the Exhibition of ‘100 Nativity Scenes in the Vatican’

Nativity Scene and Christmas Tree
The arrival of the Christmas tree in St. Peter's Square last November 23 (C) Vatican Media

At 5:00 pm on Friday, December 10, the lighting will be turned on of the Nativity Scene and Christmas Tree set up in Saint Peter’s Square. Archbishop Fernando Vergez Alzaga, and Sister Raffaella Petrini, President and Secretary, respectively, of the Governorate of Vatican City State, will inaugurate them.

The Peruvian Delegation

 Official delegations will be present of the places of origin of the Nativity Scene and the Tree, from the Huancavelica Region of Peru and from Andalo in Trentino. In particular, for the artistic Nativity Scene — made up of statues that portray a slice of life of the inhabitants of the Andes — taking part among others are Monsignor Carlos Salcedo Ojeda, Bishop of the Diocese of Huancavelica, and Dr. Oscar Maurtua de Romaña, Foreign Minister of the Government of Peru. The Nativity Scene is made up of some thirty pieces. The intent is to celebrate also the bicentenary of this South American country’s Independence.

And the Thirty

 Taking part in the lighting of the Christmas Tree — a majestic red fir or spruce (Picea Abies), 28 meters high and weighing eight tons, decorated with singular wooden spheres — are Monsignor Lauro Tisi, Archbishop of Trento, and the Mayor of Andalo, Alberto Perli. Also attending will be a delegation of the parish of Saint Bartholomew in Gallio (Vicenza), which set up the Nativity Scene in Paul VI Hall, inspired in a rustic type of the area allotted to the animal shelter that in dialect is called “stalotto.”

 The Holy Father Receives the Delegations

 On the same day, in the morning, Pope Francis will receive in audience the delegations for the official presentation of the gifts. The Nativity Scene and Christmas Tree will be on display until Sunday, January 9, 2022, the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, with which Christmastide ends.

100 Nativity Scenes in the Vatican

 Monsignor Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, opened last Sunday in the Vatican the International Exhibition of 100 Nativity Scenes, which brings together the works of numerous artisans, depicting the Nativity Scene, in the various representations that the imagination of the crib-makers expresses and is realized in every artifact.

The Exhibition, in its fourth edition, because of the pandemic, is being held in the thought-provoking area underneath Bernini’s Colonnade in Saint Peter’s Square. Exhibited this year are 126 Nativity Scenes from various European nations, such as Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, and Croatia, and from the world, among which are Kazakhstan, Peru, Indonesia, Uruguay, Colombia, and the United States. Many of these nations are represented by their respective Embassies to the Holy See; they are in charge of promoting the event in various countries.

Original Nativity Scenes

 Several Entities are also taking part with original Nativity Scenes. One was placed on the front of an ATAC bus, the Transport Company of Rome. The Trappists’ Chocolate Society made a 100 kilogram Nativity Scene entirely in chocolate. As every year, thirty schools of Lazio also adhered to the initiative, making Nativity Scenes composed of children. Also present are Cribs from Roman parishes.

The other 100 Nativity Scenes summarize the inspiration and imagination of the artisans that made them. The materials used to make them are diverse: paper, fabric, cork and wood. There are thought-provoking dioramas, Nativity Scenes represented in the scenography of the districts of Rome, in crochet and corals.

Underneath the Colonnade until January 9

 The Exhibition will be open every day for five weeks until Sunday, January 9, 2022, from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm. The entrance is free and tickets aren’t necessary. On December 24 and December 31, the Exhibition will end at 5:00 pm. The last admission is always foreseen no later than 15 minutes before closing time. The entrance to the Exhibition is located in Saint Peter’s Square and a fixed quota will be set in respect of the rules for the prevention and containment of COVID-19 contagion. Volunteers of the Dicastery of the New Evangelization will be present during the whole event to offer a welcome service.

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester