O Christmas tree…

Christmas tree in St. Peter's Square

A 108-foot Christmas tree being erected in St. Peter's Square (CNS photo by Carol Glatz)

VATICAN CITY — If you thought maneuvering your freshly cut Christmas tree from the car roof to the tree stand in the living room was a feat only for the bold and brawny, well, the Vatican has you beat.

Half of St. Peter’s Square was cordoned off Friday morning as huge flat-bed trucks, cranes and Vatican workers strained to put up this year’s Christmas tree.

This year’s donated tree was cut from the forests near the town of Gutenstein in eastern Austria.

The tree is 120 years old and its felling was part of the region’s regulated forestry program aimed at thinning selected trees to make way for new growth.

With the help of a large crane, Vatican workers carefully raised the 108-foot spruce fir off a flatbed truck and spent at least a couple hours trimming the base and rotating the tree to get it to sit straight in a special stand in the middle of the square.

Tree 2008

Vatican workers fitting the tree into a special stand (CNS photo by Carol Glatz)

With the tree now snug in the square, workers will spend the next couple of days decorating it with lights and more than 2,000 ornaments. Its tip will be crowned with a large star.

Next Friday the pope will meet the Austrian delegation that donated the tree. The official tree lighting ceremony will be on Saturday and entertainment will be provided by an Austrian band and children’s choir.

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