CNS PHOTO | PAUL HARING
The cupola of St. Peter's Basilica and the top of the Vatican Christmas tree are seen from St. Peter's Square Dec. 13.
VATICAN CITY – The lights glowing on the Christmas tree in St. Peter's Square, like Christmas lights everywhere, are reminders that Jesus is the light of the world, Pope Francis said.
The Gospel story of Jesus' birth tells how the shepherds tending their flocks nearby were surrounded by a "great light," the pope said.
"Today, too, Jesus continues to dispel the darkness of error and sin and brings humanity the joy of blazing divine light.
"We should let ourselves be enveloped by the light of his truth so that the joy of the Gospel would fill the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus," he said.
While he did not attend the Vatican's tree-lighting ceremony Dec. 13, the pope personally thanked the German donors and their Czech neighbours for the tree during an audience earlier in the day.
The 26-metre-tall tree was a gift of the German city of Waldmunchen, but it grew just over the border in the Czech Republic.
As the sun was about to set, the 350 German and Czech pilgrims – many in traditional costumes – gathered with Vatican officials for the ceremony.