The Vatican erected its Nativity scene and Christmas tree in St. Peter’s Square on Friday, December 9. Everyone expected the beautiful Nativity, tree and Luzzo boat but one more special addition was placed at the very last moment.
The Vatican’s Christmas tree was decorated, as promised, with artwork from Italy’s sick children, primarily cancer patients.
The Nativity scene is 62-feet-long and features seventeen statues dressed in traditional Maltese costumes.
The inclusion of a traditional Maltese boat replica was present to represent fish, life and tradition, as well as to honor migrants who were forced to cross the seas on makeshift boats in their search for freedom in Italy.
Pope Francis asked visitors to look upon the scene and recall Christ was a refugee of his time. He stated: “Those who visit this scene are invited to rediscover its symbolic value, a message of fraternity, sharing, welcome and solidarity.”
In a surprise move, the Vatican added a spire from one of the many churches and basilicas damaged or destroyed in Italy’s devastating earthquakes this year.
The spire was moved from the St. Benedict Basilica in Norcia, as well as some rubble. It rests beside the life-size Nativity in honor of Italy’s many tragic losses.
The Vatican announced offerings left at the spire will be gifted to the Norcia church oratory’s reconstruction.
The many earthquakes destroyed several churches, entire villages and killed hundreds this year. The earthquake in Amatrice alone caused an estimated $4.5 billion in damages.