Vatican City, Dec 9, 2016 / 11:21 am
As Christmas approaches, the Nativity scenes found in churches and homes around the world bid us to make room for Jesus both in our lives and in society, Pope Francis said shortly before the lighting of the Christmas tree in St. Peter's Square Friday.
On Dec. 9, a massive 82-foot tree from the Dolomites was lit in St. Peter's Square, next to the nearly life-size Nativity scene, donated to the Vatican by the Archdiocese of Malta and designed by local artists.
An artist from the island of Gozo named Manwel Gretch created the sketch chosen for the Nativity, which depicts the Maltese countryside. The 17 characters in the Nativity, animals excluded, are dressed in typical Maltese clothing and holding tools and instruments.
The Nativity scenes found "in churches, in homes and in many public places are an invitation to make room in our lives and society for God, hidden in the face of so many people who are in conditions of hardship, poverty and tribulation," the Pope said during a meeting with the artist of the scene and a delegation from Malta and Trentino.