This morning the Pope received in audience delegations from Verona and Catanzaro, representing those who gave the gift of the Nativity scene and the Christmas tree in Saint Peter’s Square this year.
Here is a translation of the Pope’s address.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I meet you on the day that the Crib and Christmas tree are inaugurated in Saint Peter’s Square, and I thank all those who have cooperated, in different ways, to bring this about. I greet you all cordially, beginning with your Bishops, Monsignor Giuseppe Zenti and Monsignor Vincenzo Bertolone. With them I greet the Authorities and representatives of the institutions that have generously fostered this initiative. Thank you for these two beautiful Christmas gifts, which will be admired by numerous pilgrims from all over the world.
The Crib with life-size statutes donated by the Arena Foundation of Verona, and the large fir tree with the [other] trees destined to different areas of the Vatican, offered by the Provincial Administration of Catanzaro, express the traditions and spirituality of your Regions. The values of Christianity, in fact, have made fruitful the culture, literature, music and art of your lands; and still today these values constitute a precious patrimony to be preserved and transmitted to future generations.
The Crib and the Christmas tree are Christmas signs that are always thought-provoking and dear to our Christian families: they recall the Mystery of the Incarnation, the Only-Begotten Son of God made man to save us, and the light that Jesus brought to the world with his birth. But the Crib and the tree touch everyone’s hearts, also those who do not believe, because they speak of fraternity, of intimacy and of friendship, calling the men of our time to rediscover the beauty of simplicity, of sharing and of solidarity. They are an invitation to unity, to concord and to peace; an invitation to make room in our personal and social life for God, who does not come with arrogance to impose his power, but who offers us his Omnipotent Love through the fragile figure of a Child. Therefore, the Crib and the tree bring a message of light, of hope and of love.
To you here present, to your families and to all the inhabitants of your Regions, Veneto and Calabria, I express the hope that the Birth of our Lord is spent in serenity and intensity. He, the Messiah, became man and came in our midst, to dissipate the darkness of error and sin, bringing to humanity his divine light. Jesus said of himself: “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Let us follow him, the true light, so we do not go astray and to reflect in turn light and warmth on all those going through moments of difficulty and interior darkness.
Dear friends, thank you for your gifts! I invoke upon each one of you the maternal protection of the Holy Virgin and I bless you from my heart. Please do not forget to pray for me! Happy Christmas![Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]