Vatican City, Nov 29, 2016 / 10:47 am
While signs of bustling pilgrims who came for the Jubilee of Mercy are mostly gone, new signs of Christmas are springing up around St. Peter's Basilica, including the construction of the large Nativity scene in the middle of the square, and the placement of a Christmas tree alongside it.
On Nov. 24, a massive 82-foot tree from the Dolomites arrived in St. Peter's Square next to the large Nativity scene currently being built, which was donated to the Vatican by the Archdiocese of Malta and designed by local artists.
An artist from the island of Gozo named Manwel Gretch did the sketch chosen for the Nativity, which depicts the Maltese countryside. The 17 characters in the Nativity, animals excluded, will be dressed in typical Maltese clothing and will be holding tools and instruments.
The traditional "Cross of Malta" will be included in the scene, as well as a typical Maltese archipelago boat meant to represent not only the island's tradition, fishing and life, but also the reality that thousands of migrants face when risking their lives to sail in makeshift boats to Italy.