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Archive image of Christmas tree in St. Peter's Square Archive image of Christmas tree in St. Peter's Square  (Vatican Media)

2021 Vatican Nativity Scene hails from the Andes

The traditional St. Peter’s Square Crib is a gift, this year, from Peru’s Chopcca Nation, while the majestic red fir Christmas tree comes from a forest in the northern Italian region of Trentino.

By Vatican News staff writer

Over 30 figurines created by five different artists belonging to the Chopcca Nation, make up the traditional Nativity Scene soon to be inaugurated in St. Peter’s Square

The Chopcca Nation comprises several communities that are located in the Huancavelica region in the high Andean region of Peru; their name refers to a character that represents a “common ancestor”, and oral sources and accounts date the First Nation to times prior to the arrival of the Incas.

Pope Francis had announced the Andean origin of the 2021 Nativity Scene last Sunday after the recitation of the Angelus when he greeted a group of Peruvian pilgrims who were celebrating the feast of Señor de Los Milagros.

A universal call to Salvation

With its representation of a cross-section of the life of the peoples of the Andes, a Holy See Press Office communiqué on Thursday explained that the Nativity Scene also celebrates 200 years from the independence of Peru, and symbolizes the universal call to Salvation.

The life-sized figurines representing the Child Jesus, the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, the Three Kings and the shepherds are made of ceramic, maguey wood and fiberglass, and will be wearing traditional Chopcca costumes.

Baby Jesus will have the appearance of a "Hilipuska" child, so-called because he is wrapped in a typical Huancavelica blanket tied with a "chumpi" or woven belt. The Three Kings will be carrying traditional foods such as potatoes, quinoa, and other indigenous cereals, and they will be accompanied by llamas with the Peruvian flag on their backs. The birth of the Saviour will be announced by an angel playing the Wajrapuco, the traditional Andean wind instrument. Indigenous animals such as alpacas, vicunas, and the Andean condor, Peru’s national symbol, will also be featured.

The fir tree from Trentino

The 28-meter-high red fir tree that will be placed beside the Crib comes from a forest in Andalo, in the northern Italian Trentino region. The Press Office communiqué noted that the tree is from a Sustainable Forestry Management project and that the Trentino Delegation will also provide the wooden decorations. As always, the Vatican Governorate will take care of sustainable lighting with low energy consumption.

The traditional inauguration of the Nativity scene and the lighting of the Christmas tree are scheduled for Friday, 10 December.

The inauguration

The ceremony will be presided over by Archbishop Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, President of the Governorate of Vatican City State, and on the same day, the delegations of Huancavelica, Andalo and Gallio (an Italian town providing the Nativity Scene to be placed in the Paul VI Hall), will be received in audience by Pope Francis.

The realization of the Andean Nativity Scene was born from the collaboration between the Episcopal Conference of Peru, the Diocese of Huancavelica, the Regional Government, the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Embassy of Peru to the Holy See.

28 October 2021, 16:14