DAILY CATHOLIC    TUESDAY     December 14, 1999     vol. 10, no. 237

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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Pope Blesses Figurines of Baby Jesus Carried by Thousands of Children

        VATICAN CITY, DEC 12 (ZENIT) - According to Roman tradition, on the third Sunday of Advent, the Pope blesses the figures of the Christ Child, carried to St. Peter's Square by the youngest child of each family. Thus, today, the square was filled with thousands of children awaiting the blessing for the central figure of their family's nativity scene.

        This made for a very special atmosphere. The giant nativity scene in the middle of the square is slowly coming together, and the Christmas tree is already in place, donated this year by Catholics of the Czech Republic. It will be given officially to the Holy Father by President Vaclav Havel. This is a time of joy and family closeness very much appreciated by the Bishop of Rome.

        John Paul II spoke about this tradition in St. Peter's Square today, saying, "One of the popular expressions of the joyful expectation of Christmas is the preparation of the nativity scene in families. In Christian homes during these days a corner is dedicated to place the statuettes, leaving space between Mary and Joseph for the Child. In thinking about all the Christian families who are preparing their nativity scenes, I gladly bless you boys and girls of Rome who, coordinated by the Roman Oratory Center, have come in great numbers bringing the figure of the Child Jesus."

        "May Christmas, already near, and the beginning of the Jubilee, inspire you and believers from all parts of the world to prepare a worthy dwelling place to welcome Christ," the Pontiff said.

        The Pope mentioned that this year's is a very special Christmas, because the Jubilee turns it into "an extension of the feast of the mystery of the Incarnation throughout the year, two thousand years since the coming of the Son of God in the humility of our human nature."

        Because of this, the Church proclaims the year of the Lord's mercy, "inviting everyone to drink in abundance from the very source of grace, Jesus Christ, Man-God, Redeemer of man and center of history," continued the Holy Father. ZE99121205

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

December 14, 1999       volume 10, no. 237


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