Benedict's Christmas tree breaks record

After a week's delay owing to fog and winds, workers have succeeded in setting up Pope Benedict's Christmas tree - a 33-metre high fir tree from Calabria in Southern Italy - the tallest tree ever at the Vatican.

"This morning I saw the tree from my window," Pope Benedict XVI told several thousand people gathered in St Peter's Basilica for the weekly public audience on Wednesday, the Associated Press reports.

The 33-metre high fir tree from the mountains of Sila National Park in Calabria, southern Italy, arrived at the Vatican during the night. Thick fog encountered en route was the last of a series of delivery problems.

First workers had problems cutting down the tree because of heavy winds. Then they had to figure out how to hoist the nine tonne tree onto the helicopter which carried it on the first leg of the trip to the Vatican.

"We were on the Sila for three days," Eugenio Ripepe, supervisor of the delivery told Associated Press Television as he described the transportation difficulties.

The tradition of erecting a Christmas tree in St Peter's Square, beside a larger than life Nativity scene, was introduced by the late Pope John Paul II in 1982.

According to Vatican statistics, the trees, which over the past 24 years have come from different European countries or regions of Italy, have never surpassed 32 metres, making the Calabrian tree the tallest.

The tree will be decorated in the coming days, and lit on Christmas Eve.


Vatican Christmas tree -- tallest ever -- arrives from southern Italy (International Herald Tribune, 13/12/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Christmas Tree (Wikipedia)

Pope explains symbolism of Christmas tree (CathNews, 21/12/04)
Christmas tree to appear in St Peter's Square today (CathNews, 12/12/03)
Village rehearses chopping down Christmas tree for Pope (CathNews, 28/11/01)

14 Dec 2006