For several years now, different Italian cities have taken turns providing a nativity scene for display in St. Peter’s Square. This year’s nativity came from Jesolo, a coastal town not far from Venice. Or to be more specific, the town of Jesolo donated not a nativity scene per se, but the 700+ tons of sand used to make one:
This year’s nativity scene was sculpted entirely out of sand, by an international team of sand-sculptors headed up by an American. For weeks, the site in the center of St. Peter’s Square was carefully curtained off, to allow construction to proceed in secret–while the rest of us wondered why we didn’t hear much hammering and sawing going on in there this year…
What these artists have produced is breathtaking! It’s difficult to imagine that small features like the straw for the animals, and the donkey’s hair, are carved from sand, since their intricate detail and perfect precision make them look like the real thing. And we’re betting that the Baby Jesus must have had a real newborn as His model; the Christ Child looks exactly like a real infant who just came out of his mother’s womb.
Right next to this impressive scene is the Vatican Christmas tree–this year a red fir from the Italian province of Friuli-Venezia Giulia (the part of Italy bordering Slovenia). It stands roughly 70 feet high, and its yellow lighting glitters like gold. A real winner!
Visitors can come to check out the display every day until the official end of the Christmas season on January 13. You can read more about it here. What a wonderful way to spend an evening with family and friends–and for free!