A reader sent me the following story:
Vatican City, 13 Dec. (AKI) – After a one day delay, due to a complex journey from southern Italy, a massive fir from the southern Italian region of Calabria has been hoisted into place in St Peter’s Square as the official Vatican Christmas tree. The 33-metre high white fir, a gift from the Calabrian regional government, is one of the biggest trees in the history of Vatican Christmas celebrations. Transporting the nine-tonne fir, whose trunk is nearly three metres in circumference, was no easy task. The pine stands in the middle of St Peters Square alongside a larger-than-life-size Nativity scene.
The tree, chosen from the Massicio del Garaglione Forest had to be carried down the steep mountain valley with a powerful Forest Rangers helicopter, before being loaded onto a long haul truck and carried by road to Rome. The tree took up most of the width of the Salerno-Reggio Calabria motorway, where it was escorted by the forestry commission, the civil protection unit and motorway staff.
The pine procession caused intense congestion along the already difficult highway, forcing the convoy to halt regularly and allow other vehicles past. A trip which a car could cover comfortably in eight hours took a record 53 hours.
The late Pope John Paul II introduced the first Christmas tree to St Peter’s Square in 1982, four years after assuming the papacy. Each year, the tree comes from a different European country or region of Italy. Last year’s tree came from the Austrian town of Eferding.
The massive tree in the square this Christmas is not the only gift from Calabria. Another 29 pines of varying dimensions have been placed around Vatican City including one in the private apartment of Pope Benedict XVI.
That is rather interesting that it has been such a short time that the Vatican has had a Christmas Tree.