Neapolitan Nativity Scene and Bavarian Christmas Tree to Decorate St. Peter's Square

A Neapolitan nativity scene and a Christmas tree from Bavaria, Germany, will decorate St. Peter’s Square this year, the Vatican has disclosed.

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The nativity scene is produced in the workshop of “Cantone & Costabile”, heirs and perpetuators of a tradition of nativity scenes that became famous throughout Europe from the eighteenth century.

The workshop has donated its artistic and architectural work entitled “Francis 1223 – Francis 2013” to Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, Archbishop of Naples, who in turn has offered it in homage to Pope Francis. The tradition of building nativity scenes dates back to the time of St. Francis of Assisi.

The backdrop will depict a landscape typical of Campania, the region where the city of Naples is located, and the scene will include sixteen figures dressed according to eighteenth century Neapolitan style.

The masters Cantone and Costabile have maintained the expressiveness of the faces of the figures, while raising them from a height of thirty centimetres to two metres, the Vatican said.

While representing all the various social classes, the figures also reflect all the different stages of life, from infancy to old age. Alongside a young nobleman there is a gypsy woman dressed in rags, an elderly woman accompanied by two children and the Three Kings who walk alongside peasants. Their heads, hands and feet are made of multicoloured terracotta and their eyes are created using crystal glass. The nativity has been produced with the generous assistance of several benefactors, to limit as far as possible the cost to the Governorate of Vatican City State.

The Vatican also said that on 6 December, the large Christmas tree will arrive in the Square, this year originating from Bavaria, Germany. A gift from the community of Waldmuenchen, the tree is 25 metres tall, with a diameter of 98 centimetres.

As in previous years, the installation, decoration and lighting of the tree is entrusted to the Technical Services of the Governorate of Vatican City State.

The Vatican said that following the holiday period, the wood of the trunk will be used to produce toys and small objects for everyday use.

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