The nativity scene and the Christmas tree in the Vatican, the heart of Catholicism, have a special meaning.
They usually reflect the concerns of each pontiff, and in Francis' case, migration is central. The nativity scene comes from the island of Malta. A land of migrants after World War II, it is now one of the places that receives the most migrants in the world.
CARD. GIUSEPPE BERTELLO
Governorate, Vatican City State
"The presence of a boat with which migrants brave the sea to get to Europe in search of a home and a better future is very revealing.”
The decorations of the nativity scene are typically Maltese; the architecture, the dresses, and even the boat, which is traditional fisher's boat in the island.
The 80-feet-tall tree is a wake up call for Europe, so it does not forget its migrant past. It comes from the Trentino region, in the north of Italy, a land that was also emptied by the great conflicts of the twentieth century.
MSGR. LAURO TISI
Archbishop of Trento (Italia)
"We cannot celebrate Christmas without remembering the tragedy of migrants. We cannot celebrate Christmas forgetting that we cannot find Christ when we reject immigrants.”
The Christmas tree decorations were made by children in the oncology branch of hospitals. The tree will be replaced by another forty exactly like it.
The nativity scene and the tree will decorate St. Peter's Square until January 8, 2017.