The great Vatican Christmas tree comes from Slovenia.
This morning, the pope greeted two politicians from this country and many people who collaborated to bring the tree to Rome.
The Slovenian bishop accompanying them explained that the spruce is from a region where the blood of many martyrs has been shed because of religious persecution caused by Communism.
Archbishop of Maribor (Slovenia)
“These people who died, died with faith, they died with their hands outstretched to God. They felt God's closeness, even in such difficult moments. Similarly, this Christmas tree seeks to convey this hope, faith and love of God, which always turns toward us.”
The pope thanked them and also greeted representatives from Castelli, in Abruzzo. They brought the original ceramic figures in the Nativity Scene.
“The Christmas celebration reminds us that Jesus is our peace, our joy, our strength, our comfort. However, to receive these gifts of grace, we must feel small, poor and humble, like the characters in the manger.”
The pope noted that the tree and the manger are both “icons” of Christmas, and that they call to mind God's closeness, even during the pandemic.