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Sand Nativity at St. Peter’s Square

VATICAN CITY (CNS): Hundreds of people in St. Peter’s Square applauded as white curtains unfurled, revealing a 15.8 metre wide artistic representation of Jesus’ birth made entirely of sand and dubbed the Sand Nativity on December 7, at the annual unveiling of the Vatican’s Christmas tree and Nativity scene.

The bas-relief sculpture, which weighs over 700 tons, was made with sand from Jesolo, an Italian seaside resort town roughly 64 kilometres north of Venice.

Shortly after, as the sun set behind St. Peter's Basilica, the sounds of Silent Night filled the square before the lights of the Vatican’s towering Christmas tree were lit.

The Sand Nativity scene and tree will remain in St. Peter’s Square until the feast of the Baptism of the Lord on January 13.