Christmas celebrations at the Vatican kick off with the lighting of the Christmas tree in St. Peter's Square. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION)
STORY: The Vatican was bathed in an array of new lights on Friday (December 19) as it kicked off its annual Christmas celebrations.
The lighting of the tree in St. Peter's Square, which traditionally marks the start of the Christmas celebrations at the Vatican, coincided this year with the unveiling of the nativity crib and with the inauguration of the new LED's lighting of the basilica's dome and facade.
The nativity crib is traditionally unveiled in a separate ceremony closer to Christmas day.
The 25-and-a-half-meter-tall fir tree decorating St. Peter's Square came from the majestic Sila mountains of the Southern Calabria region, while the crib figures were donated by the Arena Foundation of the north-eastern town of Verona.
Meeting civil authorities from Calabria and Verona on Friday, Pope Francis said the tree and the nativity scene touch the hearts of all people with their message of light, hope and love and are part of a heritage that must be preserved for future generations, Vatican radio also said.
The lighting of the tree and the unveiling of the crib was followed shortly by the switching of the new LED illumination system of the basilica's facade and dome.
The new system is made up by 315 LED lights meant to reduce energy consumption and costs.
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