Christmas Tree and Nativity Scene Light Up St. Peter's Square

St. Peter's Square is ready for Christmas: the Christmas tree and nativity scene have been set up on the square, like every year.

The tree that stands on the square this Christmas was cut down Monday in the German town of Regensburg. The 45-year-old tree stands 25 meters tall and weighs 7.2 metric tons, and was taken to the Vatican by police escort on Friday morning.

The bishop of Regensburg, Rudolf Voderholzer, said, "We are proud to be able to bring a Christmas tree from the center of Europe to the center of Christianity.”

The nativity scene was crafted by Naples-born Antonio Cantone, 41, maker of statues and statuettes of shepherds from the 1700s and an anti-mafia activist. It is set in the southern Italian region of Campania, around Naples, in an area the Romans called "Campania felix", or "fertile countryside."

"This will be the first time a Neapolitan nativity scene will appear in St. Peter's. I am a supporter of the ‘Land of Fires’ (Terra dei Fuochi) movement, which is why I decided to set it in Campania Felix,” Cantone explained. (The Camorra, or Neapolitan mafia, is believed to be responsible for dumping and burning illegal toxic waste in Campania, part of which has been dubbed the "Land of Fires" as a result.)

Last year's St. Peter's nativity scene was donated by another southern region, Basilicata.

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