.- The Vatican announced that this evening Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, president of the Governorate of Vatican City State, will preside at the official lighting ceremony of the Christmas tree which was erected in St. Peter's Square last Wednesday. The tree stands next to the nativity scene, which will be inaugurated in the next few days.
Today's event, which is due to begin at 4.30 p.m., will be attended by civil and religious authorities from the Italian region of Calabria which donated this year's tree, a fir from the forests of the Sila National Park, more than 30 meters high and weighing seven tons.
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.
The tradition of placing a nativity scene and Christmas tree in St. Peter's Square began in 1982, during the pontificate of John Paul II.