Pope Visits Nativity Scene of Rome´s Street Cleaners

Reconstruction of Palestine as It Was 2000 Years Ago

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 7, 2001 (ZENIT.org).- In the monumental city of Rome, which has hundreds of Nativity scenes on display in churches and public places, John Paul II took time this afternoon to visit the beautiful Nativity scene made by the Eternal City´s street sweepers.

This is, in fact, a traditional Christmas appointment for the Holy Father, who since the beginning of his pontificate, has delighted in leaving the Vatican walls to visit this little work of art located in the Aurelio neighborhood, near the Vatican, and made by Rome´s municipal cleaners.

The magic atmosphere and country setting of the birth of Jesus are meticulously reproduced in the street cleaners´ Nativity scene. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is missing. There are shepherds, little streets, springs of water, and caves excavated in the rock to delight the viewers.

After passing the wooden entrance open to the public, the Pope was able to submerge himself in this Palestinian setting of 2000 years ago.

The idea was conceived by Giuseppe Ianni, now retired, who has reconstructed Jesus´ Nativity every year since 1972. Among the famous visitors were Paul VI, who first viewed it in 1974, and Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Today, on Vatican Radio, Ianni recalled: «When he saw the Nativity, Paul VI said ´How wonderful.´ John Paul II added: ´The stones of this work are not placed with cement; they must be joined by our love and affection.´ «

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