Tomorrow evening St. Peter’s Square will be lit with the glow of a fully adorned Christmas tree from northern Italy. Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, president of the Governorate of Vatican City State, will preside at the official lighting ceremony of the tree which was recently erected in St. Peter's Square. The tree stands next to the nativity scene, which is in the process of being constructed.
The lighting is scheduled to take place at 4 p.m., with civil and religious authorities from the region of Bolzano in northern Italy which donated this year's tree in attendance. The towering 140-year-old fir is 26 meters high, weighs more than three tons and is decked out with 2,000 ornaments.
The nativity scene, which will be unveiled on the evening of December 24, has seventeen life-size statues. Of these, nine are the original figures donated by St. Vincent Pallotti for the nativity scene in the Roman church of Sant'Andrea della Valle in 1842. The other eight figures were added over the course of the years. As in 2006, the Italian province of Trento has provided further sculpted wooden figures and animals, as well as household utensils for the depiction of daily life.
From December 19 to February 2, the Paul VI Hall will also be adorned with a tree and a nativity scene created by Mexican artists. The figures of the nativity scene are in the Novo Hispanic Baroque style, while the tree decorations are the work of Mexican traditional craftsmen. The nativity scene in St. Peter's Square will also include four Mexican Baroque angels.
The initiative, entitled "Mexican Christmas in the Vatican," has been organized to mark the 15th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Mexico and the Holy See. The display marks the first time a Latin American country has contributed to the decoration of the Vatican. The display will be inaugurated by Benedict XVI on Wednesday, December 19.