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Pope receives Christmas tree from Romanian president, religious leaders

Romania's president gave Pope John Paul II a 25 metre tall Christmas tree from the forests of Transylvania.

President Ion Iliescu, accompanied by Catholic Archbishop Ioan Robu of Bucharest and Orthodox Bishop Vincentiu, vicar of the Bucharest patriarchate, formally presented the tree to the pope during an audience on Monday.

Even while the presentation was taking place in the apostolic palace, Vatican workers were completing the task of trimming the tree with gold and silver ornaments, multicolored lights and silver tinsel.

Iliescu and the bishops returned to the Vatican in the early evening along with two Romanian choirs to witness the lighting of the tree with US Cardinal Edmund C. Szoka, governor of Vatican City State.