Big Vatican Christmas tree to be recycled into toys

VATICAN CITY Sat Dec 13, 2008 11:54am EST

1 of 3. Workers erect a 33-metre high and 120-year-old Christmas tree in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican early December 5, 2008. This year the tree, which is donated from a different part of Europe each year, came from the forests of Austria.

Credit: Reuters/Max Rossi

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VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The largest Christmas tree ever to be placed in St Peter's Square in Rome was lit on Saturday and Vatican officials said its wood will be recycled to make toys for needy children.

The 33-meter-high tree, which came from the forests of southern Austria, was lit at an afternoon ceremony as rain that has brought the nearby Tiber River to one of its highest levels in decades started again after a one-day break.

The Vatican said all the wood from the 120-year-old tree will be recycled to make toys for needy children and garden furniture such as benches for schools.

The decision to recycle the wood from the tree was the Vatican's latest effort to go green.

Last month it activated a large system of solar panels on the roof of its audience hall and announced an ambitious plan that could one day make it an alternative energy exporter.

(Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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