December 24, 2012

Oil giants such as Total and Shell and other companies operating in southern Italy’s petroleum-rich Basilicata region footed the expenses for this year’s Nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square.

The regional government offered to donate to the Vatican a 150-square-metre artistic representation of Christ’s birth, resulting in “very significant savings” for the Holy See, Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca, secretary-general of the Vatican governor’s office, said during a news conference Dec. 13.

Basilicata officials launched a fundraising appeal to the surrounding business community, which ended up covering “95 per cent to 100 per cent” of the project’s expenses, said Vito De Filippo, president of the Basilicata region.

The Vatican was to spend about $28,000 in personnel and labour costs in assembling the scene.

The scene will be unveiled Dec. 24.