Home   |  About Us   |  Contacts   |  Products    
 News Items
 Top Stories
 News Briefs
 Vatican
 Origins
 Africa
 Headlines
 Also Featuring
 Movie Reviews
 Sunday Scripture
 CNS Blog
 Links to Clients
 Major Events
 2008 papal visit
 World Youth Day
 John Paul II
 For Clients
 Client Login
 CNS Insider
 We're also on ...
 Facebook
 Twitter
 RSS Feeds
 Top Stories
 Vatican
 Movie Reviews
 CNS Blog
.
 For More Info

 If you would like
 more information
 about Catholic
 News Service,
 please contact
 CNS at one of
 the following:
 cns@
 catholicnews.com
 or
 (202) 541-3250

.
 Copyright

 This material
 may not
 be published,
 broadcast,
 rewritten or
 otherwise
 distributed,
 except by
 linking to
 a page on
 this site.

.
 CNS Story:

VATICAN-TREE Dec-6-2012 (340 words) With photos. xxxi

Vatican Nativity scene sets Holy Family in rock-hewn grottos of Matera


The Vatican's Christmas tree is hoisted by a crane in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Dec. 6. The tree is a 78-foot silver fir from the southern Italian region of Molise. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Christmas in St. Peter's Square this year has a particularly southern Italian flavor with a towering tree from the Molise region and a Nativity scene donated by the Basilicata region.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph will be nestled in an artistic re-creation of the picturesque rocky setting of Matera's famed "sassi" -- a U.N. World Heritage site and backdrop for recent Hollywood films about the Holy Family and Jesus.

The 78-foot silver fir was plucked out of the forests of Isernia by helicopter Dec. 5 and trucked 120 miles north with an Italian police escort.

The tree arrived in the square in the pre-dawn hours Dec. 6, the feast of St. Nicholas, patron saint of children and source of the Santa Claus character.

Vatican workers will spend several days decorating the tree with lights and gold and silver balls before the official lighting of the tree Dec. 14.

The large Nativity scene in the square will remain shrouded in mystery until its official unveiling Christmas Eve.

The scene, which will be assembled by Vatican personnel, will be decorated with more than 100 terracotta figures and detailed scenery crafted by the Italian artist Francesco Artese; his enormous "presepi" have been on display in New York City and Washington, D.C.

The Nativity scene, which will cover 180 square yards, will depict Matera's famed "sassi" -- cliff-clinging churches, buildings, streets and grottos carved out of the mountainside.

The ancient rock-hewn city is on the U.N. World Heritage List and was the setting for Mel Gibson's film, "The Passion of the Christ," and Catherine Hardwicke's "The Nativity Story," because the city's historical center poses a striking similarity to what Jerusalem might have looked like 2,000 years ago.

The Vatican's Nativity scene will depict the hardworking and simple life of farmers and craftsmen, and the terracotta figures will be wearing handmade traditional dress, according to the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano.

The scene will also be specially lit using movie set lighting to give it a "cinematographic" feel, it said.

END


Copyright (c) 2012 Catholic News Service/USCCB. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed.
CNS · 3211 Fourth St NE · Washington DC 20017 · 202.541.3250