Vatican City, Dec 12, 2004 / 22:00 pm
Pope John Paul II spoke about the importance of Nativity scenes during the Angelus prayer yesterday, Gaudete Sunday, noting that they are “a sign of faith in God, Who in Bethlehem came 'to live in our midst'."
"As Christmas approaches,” he said, “many places are setting up nativity scenes, such as here in St. Peter's Square. Large or small, simple or elaborate, the crib is a familiar and very expressive representation of Christmas. It is part of our culture and art, but above all it is a sign of faith in God, Who in Bethlehem came 'to live in our midst'."
The pope blessed statues of the Baby Jesus, brought to St. Peter's Square by children and young people, who will place them in the nativity scene in their homes, schools and parishes.
There are campaigns in various regions of Italy to eliminate symbols of Christmas from public avenues and schools.
The Holy Father said that in Nativity scenes “we can already find Joseph and Mary, silent witnesses of a sublime mystery. With their look of love they invite us to be vigilant and to pray to receive the divine Saviour, who comes to bring the joy of Christmas to the world."