The Vatican

A Venetian nativity scene and an Abruzzo fir tree for the Vatican

A wooden nativity scene in which the Holy Family will appear accompanied by very symbolic figures and a 30-meter white fir tree will be the Christmas decorations to be seen this year in St. Peter's Square.

Maria José Atienza-October 28, 2022-Reading time: 3 minutes
christmas san pedro

Photo: Tree and nativity scene in St. Peter's Square for Christmas 2021-2022

The Governorate of the Vatican City State has made public the details of the Christmas decorations that, as every year, will give St. Peter's Square a special charm during the Christmas holidays.

The nativity scene to be installed in St. Peter's Square for Christmas 2022 comes from Sutrio, in the province of Udine, in the region of Carnia, Friuli Venezia-Giulia.

The life-size wooden figures will show, in addition to the traditional scene of the Holy Family, common characters performing symbolic works or gestures.

The figures have been made in an environmentally friendly manner and executed with the classic "levare" technique, using mechanical equipment for roughing (chain saws), chisels, gouges and rasps for the various manual finishes.

Among them, the Baby Jesus stands out with the classic features of the little one wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger; the Virgin, placed to the left of the Baby Jesus, will be kneeling with her head covered by the mantle and her arms outstretched to indicate the Savior.

Next to them, St. Joseph is depicted standing to the right of the Child: with one hand he holds a staff and with the other a small lantern to illuminate the Grotto. The mule and the ox are also present, as well as the angel over the manger inside the Grotto.

Characters of the Nativity Scene

Among these diverse characters that will be shown in this particular Bethlehem, a carpenter stands out, as a tribute to the artisans of the village of Sutrio, where these images come from, as well as a weaver, one of the traditional trades of the Carnia area.

We will also be able to see the "Cramar", representative of an ancient profession of itinerant merchant who, leaving his village on foot and carrying a wooden chest on his shoulders, went from village to village to sell the few handcrafted products created by his community.

Another typical figure of the nativity scene, the shepherdess, also symbolizes the mountain, which with its resources provides food for the animals. The shepherdess kneels with two sheep and a "gerla", the classic basket, at her side.

Other figures of special symbolism will be the family composed of a man, a woman and a child embracing each other standing in front of the Grotto; the two children representing the hopes of life and the world and, finally, one man helping another to get up to return to the Grotto as a reminder of solidarity.

A Nativity Scene in the Paul VI Hall

In addition to the decorations typical of St. Peter's Square, the Paul VI Hall, where the papal audience is held, will have a nativity scene donated by the Guatemalan government. It is the Holy Family and three angels, handmade by artisans according to the Guatemalan tradition, with large colorful fabrics, in which the golden color predominates, and wooden statues.

A 30-meter fir tree

As for the fir tree that will be displayed in St. Peter's Square, it comes from Rosello, a village located in the center of the Sangro and which preserves the best core of fir trees in Italy. This year it will be a majestic white fir (Abies alba) of 30 meters.

Rosello, a small village of just two hundred inhabitants, is an ancient village of medieval origin, which according to tradition owes its birth to the Benedictine monks of the Abbey of San Giovanni in Verde in the early Middle Ages.

The tree ornaments were made by the young people of the residential psychiatric rehabilitation center "La Quadrifoglio".

Opening and duration

The traditional inauguration of the Nativity Scene and the lighting of the Christmas tree will take place in St. Peter's Square on Saturday, December 3 at 5:00 pm.

The ceremony will be presided over by Cardinal Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, President of the Governorate of Vatican City State, in the presence of Sister Raffaella Petrini, Secretary General of the same Governorate.

In the morning, the delegations from Sutrio, Rosello and Guatemala will be received in audience by Pope Francis for the official presentation of the gifts.

The tree and the nativity scenes will remain on display until Sunday, January 8, 2023, the feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

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