Vatican lights up 'international' Christmas tree

VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Pope Francis hailed the giant "international" Christmas tree lit up on St Peter's Square on Friday, which was transported to the Vatican from his predecessor Benedict XVI's homeland, the German state of Bavaria.

"This is an international tree! It grew near the border between Germany and the Czech Republic," the pope said as he received a delegation of pilgrims from Bavaria.

He said that the gift reflected "the spiritual closeness and friendship that link the whole of Germany, and particularly Bavaria, to the Holy See".

The 25m high pine is a gift from the town of Waldmuenchen and will stand next to a Nativity scene from Naples that will highlight the role of ordinary people in line with the pope's humble style.

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