The Crib, to be set up in St. Peter’s Square for Christmas 2017, will come from the Abbey of Montevergine, near Naples, in Campania, southern Italy, and the fir tree from Poland. They will be inaugurated on December 7 at 4:30 pm, stated a press release of the Governorate of Vatican City State on October 25.
Pope Francis will receive the delegations from Campania and Poland in the morning, as well as children who designed the ornaments for the fir tree.
This year the territorial Abbey of Montevergine offered the Vatican’s Crib. The 80-square meters work, seven meters high, was executed in the 18th century style, according to the ancient Neapolitan tradition. Inspired by works of Mercy, it has some 20 figures in polychrome terracotta, some two meters high. The eyes are made of glass and the garments of fabric.
The Archdiocese of Elk, in Poland has offered the tree, a 28-meter spruce with a base circumference of 10 meters. The local Forest Corps, whose delegation will accompany the tree to Rome, over some 2,000 kilometers across Central Europe, will cut the tree.
As last year, the decorations will be clay baubles and stars, on the model of the sculptures of children being treated for cancer in Italian hospitals. The little patients took part in a therapeutic program of ceramic sculpture organized by the “Countess Lene Thun” Foundation. This year they were joined in this activity by children of areas of Central Italy affected by the earthquakes.
A ceremony to inaugurate the Crib and the lighting of the tree will be held on Thursday afternoon, December 7. They will remain illuminated from the inauguration to January 7, 2018, Commemoration of the Baptism of the Lord, which ends Christmastide. Traditionally, the Pope goes there on December 31 in the evening, after Vespers and the thanksgiving “Te Deum” for the previous calendar year.