.- Officials have announced that on Saturday the Vatican’s Christmas tree will be lit in St. Peter’s Square. The tree, donated by a group from Austria, that will meet with the Pope later this week, stands at 108 feet and is decorated with over 2,000 ornaments.
The tree is scheduled to be lit during a ceremony on Saturday afternoon presided over by Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, president of the Governorate of Vatican City State, accompanied by Bishop Renato Boccardo, secretary general of the Governorate. Also participating in the ceremony will be Austrian government representatives, nearly 1000 pilgrims from Austria, and musicians and singers from Ziersdorf and Altenburg. At 4:30 p.m. (local time) the tree will be lit by a young member of the Altenburg choir.
The nativity decorations, which have been under construction in St. Peter’s Square, will be unveiled on Christmas Eve. Since 1982, the nativity scene and the Christmas tree have both been placed in St. Peter’s Square.
This year the scene of Jesus’ birth will be located in the center of St. Peter’s Square under a temporary structure of wooden planks along the "walls of Bethlehem.” The nativity will contain a series of figures, some of which come from the nativity scene created by St. Vincent Pallotti in the Roman church of Sant'Andrea della Valle in 1842.To decorate other areas of the Vatican grounds, the Austrian delegation, led by Erwin Proll, governor of the region of Lower Austria has also donated around 40 smaller trees which will be used to decorate the Paul VI Hall, the Clementine Hall, the Pontifical Apartments and various offices of the Roman Curia.