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Monday, December 19, 2005


VATICAN CITY, DEC 17, 2005 (VIS) - This morning, the Holy Father received a group of pilgrims from Upper Austria, led by the president of their region, Josef Puhringer. The region has donated the huge fir which is adorning St. Peter's Square for this year's Christmas celebrations. The tree was taken from the forests of Eferding in Upper Austria.

  After recalling that this evening, "following the official donation ceremony, the lights on the tree will be lit," Benedict XVI expressed his thanks for the gift of the giant fir and of the other smaller firs which will be placed in various sites around the Apostolic Palace and the offices of the Roman Curia.

  "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," said the Pope.

  Referring to the birth of the Messiah, the Holy Father pointed out how, "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."
AC/CHRISTMAS TREE/PUHRINGER                    VIS 20051219 (300)

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