Pope Francis' Address to Bavarian Pilgrims

At 12 o’clock today, Pope Francis received in audience – in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace –, the participants in the pilgrimage from Bavaria for the gift of the Christmas tree in Saint Peter’s Square.

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The ceremony of the lighting of the Christmas tree will take place at 4:30 pm today in Saint Peter’s Square.

Following is a translation of the Pope’s address to those present at the audience.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am happy to welcome you on the day of the presentation of the Christmas tree, a fir tree that this year comes from the Bavarian city of Waldmunchen, and it comes to bring a typical sign in Saint Peter’s Square. I give my cordial greeting to each one, beginning with the Mayor of the city. In addition, I greet the other civil Authorities, in particular the Lady Minister and the Gentleman Under-Secretary with the delegation and members of the Embassy of the German Federal Republic to the Holy See. Yes, because this tree is “international!” In fact it grew close to the border between Germany and the Czech Republic. Thank you for your presence!

This evening, after the ceremony of the official consignment, the lights that decorate the Christmas tree will be lighted. This majestic fir tree will be next to the Crib until the end of the Christmas festivities, and it will be admired by Romans and pilgrims and tourists from all over the world. I thank you, dear friends, for this large tree and the other smaller ones, destined to various environments of Vatican City. With these very pleasing gifts, you wished to manifest the spiritual closeness and friendship that link the whole of Germany , and Bavaria in particular, with to the Holy See, in the sign of the Christian tradition that has fertilized the culture, literature and art of your nation and of the whole of Europe. I am close to you with my prayer and accompany the path of your Christian communities and of the whole German people.

On this beautiful occasion, I express my heartfelt wish to all of you present here, and to your fellow citizens and those of the same religion, for a serene Christmas of the Lord.  At Christmas the happy announcement of the Angel to the shepherds of Bethlehem resounds everywhere: “to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). Those shepherds — says the Gospel – were enveloped by a great light. Today also Jesus continues to dissipate the darkness of error and sin, to bring to humanity the joy of the radiant divine light, of which the Christmas tree is a sign and a call. Let us allow ourselves to be wrapped by the light of his truth, so that “the joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, 1).

I renew from my heart to each of you my most fervent wishes for a Good Christmas, and I ask you to convey them also to your families and to all your fellow countrymen. I ask you, please, to pray for me, while I gladly invoke upon all of you the Lord’s blessing. May the Lord bless you and protect you, you, your families, your homeland and the whole world. Amen.

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]  

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