By Vatican News
“The feast of Christmas reminds us that Jesus is our peace, our joy, our strength, our comfort.” Those were Pope Francis words on Friday morning to a delegation who presented this year’s Christmas Tree and Nativity scene to the Vatican.
The majestic spruce tree, which takes pride of place in St Peter’s Square, comes from the forests of Kočevje, a town on the Rinža river in Slovenia, while the ceramic crib has been donated by the Italian town of Castelli, in Italy’s Abruzzo region.
Tree and crib a sign of hope
Thanking those present ahead of the formal inauguration on Friday, the Pope said these “icons of Christmas” are more than ever “a sign of hope for the people of Rome and for those pilgrims who will have the opportunity to come and admire them.”
The tree and Nativity scene help to create a “favourable Christmas atmosphere for living in faith the mystery of the Redeemer's Birth,” he said.
Humility of the Holy Family
Pope Francis noted that when we contemplate the Holy Family, “we are attracted by their disarming humility.” He went on to say that there is no room for them, not even a small room, yet “they keep vigil.” Mary “keeps everything in her heart,” while Joseph “looks for a place for her and the Child who is about to be born.”
In order to receive the gifts of peace, joy, strength, and comfort, said the Pope, “we need to feel small, poor and humble like the characters in the crib."
Highlighting the difficulties people are facing this Christmas in particular, Pope Francis stressed that “in the midst of the suffering of the pandemic, Jesus, small and helpless, is the 'Sign' that God gives to the world.”
Concluding his greeting, the Pope referred to his visit to the Italian town of Greccio last year where he signed his Apostolic Letter, Admirabile signum, dedicated to the Christmas crib. “It will do us good to re-read it in these days,” he said.
In compliance with anti covid-19 regulations, the Christmas tree and Nativity Scene will be inaugurated on Friday afternoon. The ceremony will be presided over by Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello and Bishop Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, respectively President and Secretary General of the Governorate of Vatican City State.
It will be possible to follow the inauguation ceremony live on the Vatican News web portal, www.vaticannews.va beginning at 5pm Rome time.