Vatican Nativity scene features 9 Pinoy figures

The most awaited Nativity scene that showcases nine Filipino figures was unveiled at St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on Christmas Eve.

The CBCPNews, the official news service provider of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), reported that the Filipino-made and inspired Nativity scene complemented the traditional figures of the Holy Family.

The event, organized by the Governorate of the Vatican City, was attended by ecclesiastical authorities of the Holy See and civil authorities, both from the city and province of Rome.

The Filipino community was led by Philippine Ambassador to the Holy See Mercedes Tuason.

In her message, Tuason thanked the Governorate of the Vatican City State for giving the Philippines a special place in the center of the Roman Catholic Church’s celebration of the birth of Christ this year.

Tuason added that allowing the Philippines to participate in this event marked in a special way the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and the Holy See.

The Philippines is the first country outside Italy to be given a major part in the Vatican Nativity scene since the tradition started in 1982 under the pontificate of John Paul II.

Filipinos were honored as they joined hundreds of pilgrims who went to St. Peter’s Square at this time of the year to contemplate the incarnation of Jesus Christ, who came to call all peoples into the one family of God.

Filipino sculptor Kublai Ponce-Millan designed the statues to represent different indigenous groups of the Philippines in a festive celebration of faith, music, food and family on the occasion of the birth of Jesus.

The Philippine-made statues depict a Filipino family inside a boat pulling a net with a plentiful catch from the sea.

Other figures were portrayed playing different indigenous musical instruments.

To complete the set, there were some baskets filled with different Philippine fruits, vegetables, fish and shells, highlighting the bountiful harvest of the earth and the sea.

The attractive smiling figures dressed in colorful native attire and playing musical instruments portray the joyful spirit of the Philippine Christmas that is known as the “longest and most festive celebration in the world.”

Asked to comment om the Vatican Nativity scene, Giovanni Cardinal Lajolo, president of the Governorate of the Vatican City, recognized the special contribution of the Philippines.

He also noted the dynamic faith of Filipino Catholics and underlined that the Philippines is the largest Christian country in Asia.

Angelo Cardinal Comastri, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Peter, led the prayer service at the Nativity scene. A Tagalog Christmas carol sung by the Karilagan Filipino choir from Sentro Pilipino was a special highlight.

At exactly 6 p.m., Pope Benedict XVI lighted a candle for peace as he watched the unveiling ceremony from the window of the papal apartments.

In the darkness, he blessed the crowd with the light of the single candle.