.- A young boy named Mario had the honor of lighting a majestic Christmas tree in St. Peter's Square on the evening of Dec. 14.
At 5:00 p.m., the lights of the 70-foot silver fir donated by the small town of Pescopennataro, Italy bathed the iconic square in a soft white light.
"Christmas trees are a sign of God's light, which continues to shine despite attempts to put it out," Pope Benedict XVI told a delegation from Molise, the region where the tree came from.
People gathered to sing Christmas carols and read Bible passages about Jesus' birth at Saint Peter's Square after the tree was lit.
"Within the diocese there's this little town called Pescopennataro, which has given the Holy Father this tree to enrich the festivity of Christmas and give splendor to St. Peter's Square," the Bishop Domenico Scotti of the Trivento diocese told CNA during the celebration.
"This tree lives in a very particular town of Pescopennataro; it has very interesting characteristics. But that which gives more vigor to the whole territory is that this tree has such a majestic presence," added the bishop.
A young Italian girl at the square also liked the new tree.
“This tree is really beautiful, and I like the fact that it's so tall,” Serena Iluotso said, adding that its height matches the size of the buildings in the square.
"I like Christmas, especially because there are a lot of presents," she added.
The tree, which is placed on the right of the Nativity scene still under construction, arrived at the Vatican on Dec. 6.
The decoration of the tree was done on Dec. 10.
The region of Alto Molise has over 2,600 different plant species.
"This helps understand the reality of the region of Alto Molise, which is a garden," Bishop Scotti explained.
"When one has the possibility of visiting it, one realizes that there is a very beautiful richness of the nature."
Pope John Paul II began the tradition of having a Christmas tree placed in St. Peter's Square in 1982.
This time it came from Pescopennataro, a town with a population of only 300 people.
After Christmas, the tree will be used to create children's toys, so that the wood is not wasted.
"The relationship our diocese has with the Pope is that John Paul II was in Agnone, a city of our diocese, and my predecessor welcomed him and it was a very beautiful moment," he said.
"From that moment we began a relationship, which became stronger with the Holy See."
"With John Paul II, many faithful enlarged their hearts, and with Pope Benedict XVI we also have a beautiful relationship …” Bishop Scotti said.