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Austrian fir tree in St Peter's Square

 A group of pilgrims from Upper Austria, led by the president of their region, Josef Puhringer donated a huge fir tree to St Peter's Square yesterday. The tree was taken from the forests of Eferding in Upper Austria. Lights were officially lit on the tree last night. A number of other smaller trees have also been placed around the Vatican. The Pope said: "With these much appreciated gifts, you have chosen to express the spiritual closeness and friendship that have long linked Austria and the Holy See, in keeping with the noble Christian tradition which, with its spiritual and cultural values, has enriched the literature and art of your nation and of all Europe." "With His luminous presence, Jesus dissipated the shadows of error and of sin, bringing humanity the joy and radiance of divine light, of which the Christmas tree is a symbol and a reminder." Benedict XVI expressed his best wishes to those present, extending his Christmas greetings to all inhabitants of the region of Upper Austria and concluded by calling for them all to "welcome into their hearts the gift of His joy, His peace and His love. Believing in Christ means allowing oneself to be bathed in the light of His truth, which gives full meaning, value and significance to our lives."