A Nativity scene and Christmas tree are visible reminders of God’s benevolence and closeness to all men and women, Pope Francis said, CNS reports.
The traditional Christmas displays are “the signs of the heavenly Father’s compassion, of his participation and closeness to humanity who experience not being abandoned in dark times, but instead visited and accompanied in their difficulties,” the Pope said.
“Every year, the Christmas Nativity scene and tree speak to us through their symbolic language. They make more visible what is captured in the experience of the birth of the Son of God,” Pope Francis said yesterday in a meeting with delegations from Poland and Italy, responsible respectively for the 2017 Vatican Christmas tree and Nativity scene in St Peter's Square.
The centrepiece of the Vatican’s Christmas holiday decorations is the towering 28m spruce tree.
Measuring 10m in diameter, the tree was donated by the Archdiocese of Elk, Poland, and transported to the Vatican on a flatbed truck traveling almost 2000km across central Europe.
Thanking the members of the Polish delegation, Pope Francis said the tree’s soaring height “motivates us to reach out ‘toward the highest gifts'” and to rise above the clouds to experience “how beautiful and joyful it is to be immersed in the light of Christ.”
“The tree, which comes from Poland this year, is a sign of the faith of that people who, also with this gesture, wanted to express their fidelity to the see of Peter,” he said.
The Nativity scene was donated by the Benedictine Abbey of Montevergine, located in southern Italy. Created in a traditional 18th-century Neapolitan style, it covers a surface of almost 80 square metres and features 20 terracotta figures, some as tall as 1.8m.
The representation of the night of Jesus’ birth, Francis said, is “inspired by the works of mercy” and is a reminder “that Jesus told us: ‘Do to others what you would have them do to you.'”
“The crib is the evocative place where we contemplate Jesus who, taking upon himself human misery, invites us to do the same through act of mercy.”