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Pope kicks off Christmas festivities

Pope Benedict XVI today kicked off Christmas festivities, lighting a candle for world peace in a window overlooking St Peter's Square, as this year's nativity scene was unveiled.

world Updated: Dec 25, 2007 02:29 IST

Pope Benedict XVI today kicked off Christmas festivities, lighting a candle for world peace in a window overlooking St Peter's Square, as this year's nativity scene was unveiled.

The 80-year-old pontiff blessed the crowd taking part in a Christmas Eve vigil in the famous piazza as Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo unveiled the unusual nativity scene next to an immense Christmas tree.

Instead of the usual manger scene, this year's creche is set in the carpentry workshop of Joseph, the husband of Mary, with hovering angels created by Mexican artist Agustin Parra.

It also includes 10 large figures from northeast Italy's Trentino region.

Benedict's predecessor John Paul II established the tradition of the creche in St Peter's Square in 1982.

The pope was to celebrate midnight mass at St Peter's from 0430 IST on Tuesday.