Pope Benedict XVI received a delegation from the Belgian region of Wallonia on Friday, who brought a large fir tree to decorate St Peter's Square.
The tree, which comes from the Ardennes, one of the most wooded areas of Europe, is 30 metres high, its trunk has a diameter of seven metres, it weighs fourteen tons and its lower branches reach a length of ten metres.
It was accompanied by 45 smaller trees which were placed in various sites around the Vatican. The lights were switched on Friday night.
Speaking to the delegation from Wallonia, the Pope said: "The role of this tree is similar to that of the shepherds who, watching through the shades of night, saw how the darkness was illuminated with the message of the angels. ... Standing next to the nativity scene the tree indicates, in its own particular way, the great mystery present in the poor and simple grotto. It proclaims the arrival of the Son of God to the inhabitants of Rome, to pilgrims and to everyone who sees St Peter's Square on television. Though this tree your land, and the faith of the Christian communities in your region, greet the Christ Child".