THUNDER BAY – From the Vatican News Service in Rome: Earlier Saturday afternoon at the Vatican, the traditional Christmas Nativity Scene was unveiled in St Peter’s Square. This year the scene is dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God, in honour of John Paul II, whose devotion to Our Lady was well known and whose beatification took place this past May. And just a short time ago Pope Benedict lit a Candle for Peace at the window of the Papal Apartments.
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One of the Vatican’s best-kept secrets was revealed on Saturday afternoon when the Nativity Scene was unveiled in St Peter’s Square.
The world’s largest crib scene stands over 25 metres wide and 7 metres high and it was Pope John Paul II who first asked that a Christmas crib scene be set up in the Square, back in 1982. The first one represented a simple stable and was built by workers from the Vatican’s Technical Services – the same responsible for this year’s representation. It featured papier maché statues that had been used by St Vincent Palotti in the nearby Rome church of Sant’Andrea della Valle. Over the years, architects and designers have incorporated other biblical scenes and themes into the simple nativity setting.
This year the scene is dedicated to Our Lady, Mary the Mother of God, in honour of John Paul II whose devotion to Our Lady was well known.
The highlight of the event was when Pope Benedict XVI appeared at his study window to light a “Peace Candle”. Meanwhile pilgrims and visitors continued to stream into St Peter’s Square and Basilica ahead of the Holy Father’s Christmas Eve Mass, scheduled to begin at 10pm Rome time.