It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! The Vatican’s tree, always a beauty, has just arrived in St. Peters Square. This year’s tree is different in that it’s got a “double trunk”–that is, two trunks growing together. There’s a homily in there, I’m sure: A twin-trunk tree would be a great metaphor for married love, for example, or for the family.
Another interesting thing: This year’s Nativity display in St. Peter’s Square will have an opera theme, with life-size terra cotta figures depicting “The Nativity Scene in Opera.” Apparently (although I’ve seen no pictures of the scene yet), the figures are based on characters in the lighthearted Italian comic opera “The Elixir of Love” by Gaetano Donizetti.
In “The Elixir of Love,” a love-struck peasant sets out to win the heart of a strong-willed socialite. A doctor of dubious credentials gives him a “magic potion” (actually plain old Bordeaux wine)–and surprisingly, circumstances cause everyone who uses it to win their true loves, making it seem as though the elixir really has magic powers.
I haven’t seen this year’s tree yet, so am including a photo of Vatican Christmas tree from an earlier year. Also included below, the press release from the Vatican Information Service and an aria from “The Elixir of Love”.
St. Peter’s Square prepares for Christmas
Vatican City, 4 December 2014 (VIS) – The 25 and a half metre-tall white fir tree that will decorate St. Peter’s Square this Christmas arrived in the Vatican this morning. From Passo dell’Abbate, in the Italian province of Fabrizia, Calabria, its peculiar characteristic is its double or “twin” trunk: two trunks joined together as one.
The ceremony of the lighting of the tree will take place on 19 December at 4.30 p.m. and will coincide this year with the illumination and unveiling of the nativity scene. Entitled “Il Presepe in Opera” (“The Nativity Scene in Opera”) and composed of around 25 life-size terracotta statues, it is a gift from the “Verona for the Arena” Foundation and will be inspired by the operatic works for which the city is famed, with the intention of promoting Italian opera throughout the world. This also provides the basis for the title of the display, which is a play on the double meaning of the word “opera” in Italian: it is “at work”, in the sense that its message is universal and active, and also based on the material used to stage the operatic work “The Elixir of Love” by Gaetano Donizetti.
UPDATE: Here it is! Film footage of the tree being erected in St. Peter’s Square.