The Vatican’s Nativity Scene was inaugurated on December 10 and the adjacent Christmas tree was illuminated as well, albeit under a pouring rain. The actually inauguration ceremony took place in the Paul VI Hall.
I visited the square yesterday, the second full day of sunshine we’ve had in weeks! It was a joy to be in the square, to take the photos you will see below and to hear people’s joyful and positive comments, especially given the generally negative reception given last year’s nativity scene (remember how some of the characters looked like astronauts and others defied description!). The word heard most often yesterday was “bellissima!” – “very beautiful!”
The text below comes from several vaticannews articles.
2021 VATICAN NATIVITY SCENE HAILS FROM THE ANDES
This year’s Nativity Scene in St. Peter Square’s is a gift from Peru and comes from the Chopcca Nation, comprised of several communities located in the Huancavelica region in the highlands of the Andes mountains. The scene comprises more than 30 life-sized figurines in typical Andean costumes, made of ceramic, maguey wood and fibreglass, and features alpacas, vicunas and the Andean condor, Peru’s national symbol.
The figurines were created by 5 different artists belonging to the Chopcca Nation. Their name refers to a character that represents a “common ancestor”, and oral sources and accounts date the First Nation to times prior to the arrival of the Incas.
Pope Francis had announced the Andean origin of the 2021 Nativity Scene in October after praying the Angelus when he greeted a group of Peruvian pilgrims who were celebrating the feast of Señor de Los Milagros.
A universal call to Salvation
With its representation of a cross-section of the life of the peoples of the Andes, a Holy See Press Office communiqué explained that the Nativity Scene also celebrates 200 years from the independence of Peru, and symbolizes the universal call to Salvation.
The life-sized figurines representing the Child Jesus, the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, the Three Kings and the shepherds are made of ceramic, maguey wood and fiberglass, and will be wearing traditional Chopcca costumes.
Baby Jesus has the appearance of a “Hilipuska” child, so-called because he is wrapped in a typical Huancavelica blanket tied with a “chumpi” or woven belt. The Three Kings are carrying traditional foods such as potatoes, quinoa, and other indigenous cereals, and they are accompanied by llamas with the Peruvian flag on their backs. The birth of the Savior is announced by an angel playing the Wajrapuco, the traditional Andean wind instrument. Indigenous animals such as alpacas, vicunas, and the Andean condor, Peru’s national symbol, are also featured.
The realization of the Andean Nativity Scene was born from the collaboration between the Episcopal Conference of Peru, the Diocese of Huancavelica, the Regional Government, the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Embassy of Peru to the Holy See.