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Vatican lights its Christmas tree, a gift from Ukraine

Catholic World News - December 16, 2011

A 100-foot Christmas tree was illuminated in St. Peter’s Square on December 16.

Each year since 1982, when Blessed John Paul II introduced the tradition to the Vatican, the Christmas tree in St. Peter’s Square is donated by a different country. This year the tree came from Ukraine, and the lighting ceremony featured Ukrainian Christmas carols.

Earlier in the day, Pope Benedict XVI received a delegation from Ukarine, including Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the head of the Byzantine-rite Ukrainian Catholic Church; and Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki of Lviv, the country’s leading Latin-rite prelate. Orthodox Archbishop Philip of Poltava and Myrhorod was also a member of the delegation, representing the Ukrainian Orthodox Church affiliated with the Moscow patriarchate, in a gesture of ecumenical friendship.

In his comments to the Ukrainian delegation, Pope Benedict noted that the spruce tree is “a sign of popular religiosity in your country, and of the Christian roots of your culture. My hope is that these roots may increasingly reinforce your national unity, favoring the promotion of authentic shared values.”

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