In minutes I will be leaving for St. Peter’s Square for the lighting of the Christmas tree and the official unveiling of the Nativity Scene. I’ll obviously try to get some good photos and video – maybe even do a Facebook Live! – and will post those as soon as I have the chance.

In the meantime, here’s a heads-up about my Vatican Insider guest this weekend, and the Pope’s words this morning to the donors of both the Christmas tree and the Nativity scene.


Join me this weekend on Vatican Insider for Part II of my interview with Steve Bollman, founder of Paradisus Dei, a ministry that helps families discover what he calls “the superabundance of God within marriage and family life.” Since its inception, Paradisus Dei has grown rapidly (largely by word of mouth), and has established itself as a large nationwide ministry helping families vis-a-vis husband/wife relationships and parent/children relationships. It has particular strengths in developing compelling programming and helping individuals discover the presence of God in the midst of communion.

During the Great Jubilee, Steve experienced a personal call to found a ministry dedicated to finding God within the context of marriage and family life. In 2001, he founded Paradisus Dei as a lay Catholic ministry and in 2002 he set aside his professional interests as an energy derivatives trader in Houston, Texas to dedicate himself full time to the development of the ministry. (

As he was about to hold the first meeting at 6am on a weekday morning, he was told no one would show up. However, 150 men came to the meeting. And it kept on growing. The growth has been amazing since then and today Paradisus Dei is in well over 500 parishes in the U.S.

As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00 am (Eastern time). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK FOR YOUR TIME ZONE.


(Vatican Radio) In the Paul VI hall this morning, Pope Francis met with the donors of the Vatican Christmas tree and the nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square, telling them that these gifts “form a message of hope and love.”

Welcoming the donors, Pope Francis thanked them for their gifts which he said, would be admired in Saint Peter’s Square “by pilgrims from around the world during Advent and the Christmas holidays.”

The 25-meter (82-feet) high spruce tree was donated by the Lagorai Forests Association in the Trentino region of northern Italy. The Pope remarked that, “the beauty of those views is an invitation to contemplate the Creator and to respect nature, the work of his hands.”

Francis had special thanks for the children who decorated the tree, with the support of the “Lene Thun Foundation” that organizes the ceramic therapy workshops in various Italian hospitals for children undergoing treatment for cancer and other illnesses.

He told them that, “the multicolored ornaments you have created represent the values of life, love and peace that Christ’s Christmas proposes to us anew each year.”

This year’s Nativity scene was donated by the bishops and government of Malta and is the work of artist Manwel Grech from Gozo.

The Nativity scene features 17 figures dressed in traditional Maltese costume as well as a replica of a traditional “Luzzu” Maltese boat.

The Holy Father said that this typical Maltese vessel, recalled “the sad and tragic reality of migrants on boats making their way toward Italy,” and he expressed the hope that “those who visit this nativity scene would be invited to rediscover its symbolic value”, which, he said, was “a message of fraternity, of sharing, of welcome and solidarity.”

Pope Francis concluded by telling his guests that, “the crib and the tree form a message of hope and love, and help create a Christmas spirit that can draw us closer to living with faith the mystery of the birth of the Redeemer who came to this earth in simplicity and meekness.”