Vatican Lights Up Tree in St. Peter's

Pope Reflects on Message of Christmas Symbols

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ROME, DEC. 17, 2010 (Zenit.org).- St. Peter's Square got a little brighter today when a 93-year old, 100-foot-tall Norway Spruce was placed next to the nativity scene and illuminated with yellow and white lights.

The lighting ceremony took place in the evening, presided over by Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, president of the Governorate of Vatican City State.

Earlier in the day, Benedict XVI received in audience a delegation of pilgrims from Luson, in the Diocese of Bolzano-Bressanone, who donated the tall spruce to the Vatican, as well as some other 50 trees, which will be placed in various areas of the Vatican.

The Pope noted that the tree taken from near the Sass of Putia mountain, which forms part of the immense Dolomites. "The extraordinary beauty of this scenery invites us to recognize the greatness of our Creator," the Pontiff said, "whose love shines incessantly in his wonderful work of nature, also to illuminate man's heart and fill it with peace and joy

"The tree, taken from an altitude of almost 1,500 meters [4,921 feet] and cut without causing damage to the life of the forest, will remain next to the Nativity until the end of the Christmas celebrations, and will be admired by the numerous pilgrims and tourists from all parts of the world, as significant symbol of the light of Christ, which he brought to humanity with his birth," the Holy Father affirmed.

Reflecting on the symbolic value of the Christmas tree, the Pope said that it, together with the nativity scene, offer "a message of fraternity and friendship; an invitation to unity and peace, an invitation to make room, in our life and in society, for God, who offers us his omnipotent love through the fragile figure of a Child, because he wants us to respond freely to his love with our own love."

"Therefore," Benedict XVI continued, "the Nativity and the tree bring a message of hope and love, and help to create the propitious climate to live, in the correct spiritual and religious dimension, the mystery of the birth of the Redeemer."

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-31272?l=english