Ukraine flavors Vatican Christmas tree lighting

AP News
Posted: Dec 17, 2011 10:46 PM
Ukraine flavors Vatican Christmas tree lighting

Ukrainian pilgrims sang folk songs and carols and recalled the late Pope John Paul II's visit as the Vatican lit its Christmas tree in St. Peter's Square, a 25-meter (82-foot) pine from the Carpathian mountains in their country.

The tree was decorated with 2,500 gold and silver balls and figures of animals and toys. The ceremony Friday evening included a folk choir with children carrying giant pinwheels, a Christmas tradition in Ukraine.

Polish-born John Paul began the tradition of erecting a tall Christmas tree in the square in 1982; the Bavarian-born Pope Benedict XVI has continued it.

Stephen Moore

Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki, who served as a secretary to John Paul before returning to his homeland of Ukraine, said the tree was "to thank John Paul" for his 2001 visit.