December 17, 2012

Christmas in St. Peter’s Square this year has a particularly southern Italian flavour with a towering tree from the Molise region and a Nativity scene donated by the Basilicata region.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph will be nestled in an artistic re-creation of the picturesque rocky setting of Matera’s famed “sassi” – the backdrop for recent Hollywood films about the Holy Family and Jesus.

The 23-metre silver fir was plucked out of the forests of Isernia by helicopter Dec. 5 and trucked 175 km north with an Italian police escort.

Vatican workers will spend several days decorating the tree before the official lighting of the tree Dec. 14.

The large Nativity scene in the square will remain shrouded in mystery until its official unveiling Christmas Eve.