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O Christmas Tree

O Christmas Tree


What I love most about life inside the Vatican are the rich traditions and celebrations which follow the church calendar. Coming up to Christmas we have much to look forward to. As I write this, the San Pietrini (St. Peter’s maintenance staff) are busily working on the Nativity Scene in the middle of St. Peter’s Square which this year will be made out of sand! The 1,300 cubic meters or 700 tons of sand have been brought in from the Dolomites. The first phase of the crib is a pyramid shape. The cover was mounted today but is still behind wraps as you can see from the photo below. For the next couple of weeks there will be four sculptors working on it: Richard Varano (USA), Ilya Filimontsev (Russia), Susanne Ruseler (Holland), and Rodovan Ziuny (Czech Republic). The Vatican is expecting that it will be opened to the public around 6 December!


Far more exciting for me is the impending delivery tomorrow night (Nov 21) of the Christmas tree which will stand on the other side of the obelisk and tower over St. Peter’s Square. The tree will be raised early on the morning of November 22nd by an enormous crane that can take the height and weight of the fir tree which last year measured 34 meters!


Since 1982, in a tradition which began under the papacy of John Paul II, the Vatican Christmas Tree has been donated by different regions around Europe. The first such tree was delivered to the Pope 36 years ago by a Polish peasant. This year the tree will come from the province of Pordenone in northeast Italy, thereby celebrating the 50th anniversary of the province’s establishment.


Last advent season I eagerly observed all the stages from delivery to decoration and to the final lighting of the tree on December 8th. So far we are already a week ahead of last year’s schedule with the delivery tomorrow evening. On the last day of November 2017, I watched the team begin to decorate the tree with baubles that had been painted by children and volunteers from the local children’s hospital. After much begging, I was allowed to place one or two myself (complete with hard hat). What fun! Then finally on the early evening of December 8th, the band played, the choir sang and they lit the Christmas Tree!

Here is my photo journal from last advent with the tree from all angles of St. Peter’s Square. Click here for updates and to follow the progress of the 2018 Vatican Nativity Scene and Christmas Tree.

I wish all my friends and followers a Happy and Blessed Christmas! Joanne

Vatican Nativity unveiled

Vatican Nativity unveiled

Weekend in Assisi

Weekend in Assisi