The Nativity scene that will be installed in St. Peter’s Square for Christmas 2021 will come from Peru, confirmed a press release from the Governorate of Vatican City on October 28. The large tree will come from the Trentino region in the northeast of Italy. The inauguration of the Christmas scene will take place on Friday, December 10.
After the striking Abruzzo Nativity scene that aroused mixed reactions during Advent 2020, the Vatican chose this year a Nativity scene made by the Peruvian community of Chopcca, a small town in the Andean region of Huancavelica, whose altitude varies between 3,680 and 4,500 meters and where Quechua is spoken.
The Nativity scene, which will be installed not far from the central obelisk in St. Peter’s Square, will consist of 30 rooms. The life-size santons of the Child Jesus, the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, the Three Kings and the shepherds were made from materials such as ceramic, agave wood and fiberglass.
The characters will be dressed in traditional costumes from the community of Chopcca. Thus, the Child Jesus will have the appearance of a “Hilipuska” child, wrapped in a “chumpi,” a kind of woven blanket typical of the Huancavelica region.
As for the Three Kings, they will carry saddlebags containing food from the region — for example, potatoes, quinoa, canihua or kiwicha. They will be accompanied by llamas carrying a Peruvian flag on their backs.
“The birth of the Savior will be announced by a child angel who will play the typical wind instrument called Wajrapuco,” further details the Governorate’s statement.
The crib will also include santons of various Andean animals, such as alpacas, vicuñas, sheep, viscaches — a kind of rabbit — flamingos and even Andean condors. Finally, we will find a reduced reproduction of the Chopcca community, with its culture, traditions and ancestral tools used to plow the land.
Jesus saves all people, whatever their culture
The choice of such a Nativity is not by chance. The Vatican explains that it “aims to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the country’s independence, to reproduce a sample of the life of the peoples of the Andes and to symbolize the universal call to Salvation.”
Jesus, the statement continued, “became incarnate to save every man and woman on earth, regardless of the language, people, culture or nation to which they belong.”
On December 10, the day of the inauguration of the crèche, a delegation of Peruvian communities will be received in audience by Pope Francis for a presentation of gifts.
A 28-meter-high Christmas tree
During the traditional inauguration of the crib, which will take place at 5:00 p.m., passers-by and faithful will also be able to delight in the illumination of the Christmas tree. This year it comes from the Dolomites region of Paganella, in Italian Trentino. Some 28 meters (almost 92 feet) high, it will be placed next to the crib.
The Governorate of Vatican City specifies that the tree’s decorations will have been made by a delegation from Trentino. It will be equipped with “low energy consumption LED lighting,” it is promised.