Traditional Maltese Crib inaugurated in St Peter’s Square, Vatican City
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A traditional Maltese crib set as part of the festive decorations at Vatican City was inaugurated this afternoon during the annual traditional ceremony organised by the Holy See in St Peter’s Square.
Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government Owen Bonnici was present at the inauguration, together with Archbishop Charles Scicluna.
The traditional Maltese crib, created by Gozitan artist Manwel Grech, was erected just beneath the Vatican’s obelisk monument as part of the traditional Christmas decorations, in a tradition started by Pope John Paul II in 1982. This is the first time that the traditional Vatican crib is being set up by a foreign country.
Speaking at the crib’s inauguration, Minister Owen Bonnici congratulated Gozitan artist Manwel Grech and said that it is an honour for Malta to be the first country aside from Italy to have a traditional nativity crib adorning St Peter’s Square, exporting yet another aspect of Maltese talent overseas.
“This first-of-its-kind collaboration is evidence that the Maltese Government has culture and art at its heart. During the troublesome period Europe is facing at the moment, culture should be pivotal in society. It allows us to unite together in peace and love despite our diversities,” Minister Bonnici said.
“For an active, democratic and creative society we need to raise cultural awareness and increase cultural participation and expression,” Minister Bonnici said, noting that opportunities such as this event offer a chance for Maltese talent to be exhibited abroad and nourished further, whilst allowing for the cultivation and promotion of Maltese traditions.
The official inauguration of the Maltese Nativity Crib was held following a Papal audience attended by Minister Bonnici and Archbishop Scicluna, where the Maltese delegation also presented a gift to the leader of the Catholic Church.
The nativity crib and the traditional Vatican Christmas tree were then lit simultaneously by a Maltese and an Italian child who pressed the illumination button together.
The Maltese cultural presence during the traditional festivities in Italy will also feature the Maltese Philharmonic Orchestra, under the direction of Mro Brian Schembri, in concert at the San Paolo Fuori Le Mura Basilica, on December 17.
Photograph: DOI/Omar Camilleri