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Pope Francis: Bethlehem reminds us of the children suffering in the Holy Land

Pope Francis

The Betlehem scene set up in Saint Peter's Square reminds us of our brothers and sisters living in the Holy Land, especially the children who pay the heaviest price for war - said Pope Francis in his speech to the delegation presenting the Vatican Christmas tree and Nativity scene.

Pope Francis, in front of the Vatican Nativity scene during the presentation of the Vatican Christmas tree and Nativity, declared: while we admire the small, poor, and defenseless child Jesus in the manger, we must not forget about the tragedy of those living in the Holy Land. The Pontiff received the representatives of the regions that donated the Christmas tree and the Nativity set up in Saint Peter’s Square. The lights of the Christmas tree were turned on Saturday afternoon. The Nativity scene built next to the obelisk in the middle of the square was also opened.

The twenty-seven-meter-tall, fifty-six-year-old Christmas tree this year came from the northwestern region of Piedmont, from the forests of the Macra mountain village. The area was represented by the region’s president, Alberto Cirio, the mayor of Macra, Valerio Carsetti, and the local bishop Cristiano Bodo.

Pope Francis emphasized that small gestures can create an ecological shift to protect the created world. The tradition of setting up a Christmas tree was introduced in the Vatican by Pope John Paul II from 1982. This year, the building-sized Nativity scene, which traditionally stands near the tree, was a gift from the diocese of Rieti in the Lazio region.

The first reenactment of the Nativity of Jesus was held in 1223 near the town of Greccio, a tradition linked to Saint Francis of Assisi, who spread this Christmas tradition in Italy after returning from the Holy Land. According to legend, Saint Francis recreated the Nativity scene in a cave in Greccio with local people.

Source: MTI

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