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Christmas 2022: Vatican to display hand-carved wooden nativity scene

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For Christmas 2022, the Vatican has commissioned a nativity scene made of life-sized figures hand carved out of alpine cedar trees.

The display will be unveiled in St. Peter’s Square on Dec. 3 during a lighting ceremony for the Vatican Christmas tree.

A second nativity scene, which will be displayed in the Paul VI Hall, was donated by the government of Guatemala.

The Holy Family and an angel were handmade by Guatemalan artisans in the local tradition, using wood and colorful decorations.

The Vatican has placed a nativity scene in front of St. Peter’s Basilica for the Christmas season since the 1980s. For about a decade, the Vatican has asked different countries or Italian regions to lend the nativity to be displayed. In 2021, the scene came from Peru.

Some Vatican manger scenes in recent years have come under criticism: The ceramic figures of the 2020 display elicited a lot of strong reactions on social media, many of them negative.

In 2022, the display will come from Italy’s northeastern-most region, Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

The life-sized wooden figures were carved in 2021 out of cedar tree trimmings. The Vatican said no trees were cut down solely for the purpose of making the nativity scene.

The scene will include a wooden grotto with an ox, donkey, angel, Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus. The wooden figures will also have tradesmen and tradeswomen typical of the area where the nativity was made, a shepherdess, and a family and children.

The Christmas tree is an almost 100-foot-tall white fir from Rosello, a mountain village with around 182 inhabitants in the central Italian region of Abruzzo.

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Christmas 2022: Vatican to display hand-carved wooden nativity scene