A sneak peek at the Vatican Christmas tree in St. Peter’s Square (PHOTOS)

Nothing ignites the spirit of Christmas time like the tree in St. Peter’s Square, which will be illuminated next week.

Christmas tree at St Peter's square on November 30, 2016. Alberto Pizzoli | AFP | Getty Images

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas … especially at the Vatican! Yes, popes, cardinals, bishops and priests at the Vatican like to get into the spirit, too, with a beautiful 82 foot tree in St. Peter’s Square. And you thought your six foot tree was a pain to tie onto the car and drag inside? The tree, which is donated each year, arrived at the square this week and decorations are underway to get it decorated and lit and unveiled on December 9, the day after the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Since 1982, during the tenure of Pope John Paul II, the Vatican has erected a gloriously lit tree. The very natural-looking spruce tree, donated from Trento, Italy will be decorated with ceramic ornaments made by children in Italian hospitals who are being treated for cancer, and will shine brightly with some 18,000 LED, earth-conscious lights.

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The Vatican Christmas tree is lifted up in Saint Peter’s Square on November 24, 2016. Giuseppe Ciccia | Pacific Press | LightRocket | Getty Images

The Vatican tree is of course a much less assuming experience in both style and circumstance than the Rockerfeller Center tree in New York City, which has become more of a tourist attraction at the start of the big holiday season than a symbol of the birth of our Lord. In addition to the tree, the Vatican erects a beautiful Nativity scene of life-size statues, many of which date back to the 19th century, and are said to pay tribute to refugees and other people who’ve been forced to flee their countries and undertake dangerous journeys across the sea.

The Vatican Christmas tree in Saint Peter’s Square, November 24, 2016, Italy. Giuseppe Ciccia | Pacific Press | LightRocket | Getty Images

The Vatican tree stays illuminated all through the 12 days of Christmas, and comes down the Sunday after Epiphany on January 9.

Bethanne Patrick
Bethanne Patrick
Bethanne Patrick is a writer and author whose latest book is an anthology: "The Books That Changed My Life: Reflections from 100 Authors, Artists, Musicians, and Other Remarkable People" (Regan Arts, 2016). Patrick tweets @TheBookMaven, where she has over 215,000 followers, and is on the board of the National Book Critics Circle. She lives with her husband and their daughters in the DC metro area, where she can often be found on her porch—reading.

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