Polish Christmas tree lights up in Vatican
A giant Christmas tree from Poland has been lit up in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican.
The tree, a gift from the Polish State Forests authority to Pope Francis, is 25 metres high and weighs 1.5 tonnes. It had been brought from the Romnicka Forest in northeastern Poland by a convoy that traveled 11 days before arriving in the Holy See.
The convoy traveled mostly at night, negotiating narrow roads with numerous twists and turns.
The lighting ceremony was held at dusk on Thursday and included the playing of the Polish national anthem.
Some of the decorations on the tree were made by Italian children undergoing treatment in cancer wards and coming from areas affected by an earthquake.
Earlier on Thursday, Pope Francis met with a delegation of Roman Catholic churchmen and foresters from northeastern Poland at an audience in the Vatican.
The pope said that the Christmas tree was a sign of faith of the Polish people and an expression of their faithfulness to the Holy See.
It is the second time a Christmas tree from a Polish forest has appeared in St. Peter’s Square.
Twenty years ago, a spruce from the southern Polish mountain resort of Zakopane was erected there. It was a gift expressing thanks by Polish highlanders to Pope John Paul II for a pilgrimage to his native Poland.