Holy Father to light six-ton Christmas tree in St. Peter's Square

.- Friday afternoon at sunset, Pope Benedict XVI will flip a switch to turn on the Christmas lights adorning the 27 meter tall tree standing next to the nativity scene in the center of St. Peter's Square.  The Pope met earlier in the day with those responsible for bringing the Christmas tree to the Vatican  from the Belgian region of Wallonia.

The Pope thanked the delegation present at the audience, including the Economy Minister of Wallonia, the Belgian ambassador to the Holy See, Bishop Aloys Jousten of Liege and all others involved in the promotion of the project and the "delicate" transportation of the six-ton tree to its present location.

The tree that was brought to us from the "dark and shadowy" forest is now in the light and covered in decorations like "many marvelous fruits," Benedict remarked. 

"Leaving behind its somber robe for a sparkling radiance.  It has been transformed."

"It becomes the carrier of a light that is no longer its own but bears witness to the true Light that comes to the world," said the Pontiff, likening the tree to the shepherds at the birth of Christ.

Pope Benedict added that the tree's presence could be compared to our existence in the world, "we are also called to bear good fruits to show that the world has truly been visited and redeemed by the Lord."

In its own way, said the Holy Father, this tree "proclaims the coming of the Son of God" to all who see it, "he who has come to make all things new and to call all creatures, from the humblest to the highest, to enter into the mystery of the Redemption and to be include in it."

The lights covering the enormous tree will be turned on at sunset on Friday evening by the Pope himself.  He will flip a switch that has been installed in the Apostolic Palace overlooking the Vatican Square. The tree has been in place since Dec. 4, but due to the monumental task of constructing the nativity scene and decorating the tree, they weren't made public until now.

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