Vatican Christmas Tree Will Be Recycled

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 10, 2008 ( A Christmas tree stretching up more than 108 feet in St. Peter’s Square is ready to be set aglow at a ceremony Saturday.

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The tree, a Norway spruce from the municipality of Gutenstein in Lower Austria, was donated along with 40 smaller trees to decorate Paul VI and Clementine Halls, the pontifical apartments and other curia offices. The tree in St. Peter’s Square has been decorated with some 2,000 ornaments and 1,500 lights.

In yet another Vatican initiative to protect the planet, the tree will be recycled after the Christmas festivities into wooden toys and children’s furniture, which will be decorated by a group of Italian children.

On Friday, Benedict XVI will receive a delegation from the Austrian region that donated the tree, led by its governor, Erwin Proll, and 1,000 pilgrims.

Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, president of the Governorate of Vatican City State, will preside over the lighting ceremony Saturday.

Christmas decorations in St. Peter’s Square will be completed on Christmas Eve with the unveiling of the nativity scene. The setting for this year’s crib scene is the outskirts of Bethlehem, as emphasized by a watchtower, a large gateway and humble dwellings stretching along the «walls of Bethlehem.»

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