Each year, the Vatican is decked out for the arrival of Christmas featuring a nativity scene and a tree with a special origin. This year, all of the decor comes from different regions in Italy.
The nativity that will be displayed in St. Peter's Square has a unique meaning. It seeks to revive the atmosphere of Christmas in 1223, when St. Francis of Assisi returned from a trip to the Holy Land and decided to make the first representation of the nativity scene in history. It was in the Italian village of Greccio since it reminded him of Bethlehem.
In 2019, Pope Francis visited this small village with just 1,500 citizens.
The Nativity Scene, which St. Francis made for the first time in this small space, in imitation of the narrow grotto of Bethlehem, speaks for itself. There is no need to multiply words here, because the scene that is placed before our eyes expresses the essential wisdom we need to grasp.
The work was created by the Italian artist Francesco Artese who specializes in nativity scenes. It will have life-size figures and water to represent the Velino river, which runs from Greccio to Rome.
But this will not be the only nativity scene installed in the Vatican. In the Paul VI Audience Hall, as every year, there will be another nativity scene. This year it will be made of Venetian glass and will incorporate the figures of St. Francis and St. Clare.
Pilgrims passing through St. Peter's during the Christmas season will be able to see the nearly 82-foot-tall fir tree from the northern Italian province of Cuneo. This tree will feature a large number of white flowers, characteristic of this area.
The presentation will take place on December 9 in St. Peter's Square at five o'clock in the afternoon. It will be on display throughout Christmas, until January 7.