By Robin Gomes
This year’s Sand Nativity scene and the Christmas tree of Rome’s St. Peter’s Square was inaugurated Friday evening during an impressive ceremony that included Christmas carols, folk dances and band music.
Hundreds of people, including Church dignitaries applauded as curtains were pulled down revealing the 16-meter wide depiction of the birth of Jesus made entirely of sand and dubbed the "Sand Nativity."
The bas-relief sand sculpture of the Nativity scene is a gift of the Italian seaside resort town of Jesolo, north of Venice, and the Patriarchate of Venice. Over 700 tons of sand from the beach of Jesolo was compacted to create the 16-meter wide and 5-meter tall Nativity sculpture covering 25 square meters.
Among those present at the inauguration ceremony Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, president of the commission governing Vatican City State, Archbishop Francesco Moraglia, Patriarch of Venice and Bishop Giuseppe Pellegrini of Concordia-Pordenone.
The Nativity scene and the Christmas tree will remain on display until the feast of the Baptism of Jesus, January 13, 2019, that marks the end of the Christmas season.