(Vatican Radio) With the touch of a button and using a tablet, Pope Francis on Sunday evening switched on a giant Christmas tree designed in lights on a hillside above the Umbrian town of Gubbio in Italy. The lighting ceremony came after he delivered a message via video link up from the Vatican.
The Pope was following in the footsteps of Pope Benedict in 2011 and Italian President Giorgio Napolitano.
The tree created in one thousand coloured lights was recorded in the Guinness Book of Records in 1991 as being the largest Christmas tree in the world, measuring about 750 metres tall by 450 metres wide.
See below an English language translation of the Pope’s message.
Good evening, I wish you a happy and holy Christmas.
In switching on the light of the Nativity scene, we wish for the light of Christ to be in us. A Christmas without light is not Christmas. Let there be light in the soul, in the heart; let there be forgiveness to others; let there be no hostilities, which are dark. Let there be the beautiful light of Jesus. This is my wish for all of you, when you turn on the light of the crib. Many thanks for your gift, it is beautiful. Also I give to you my warmest wishes, peace and happiness. If you have something dark in your soul, ask the Lord for forgiveness. Christmas is a great opportunity to cleanse the soul, eh! Do not fear, the priest is merciful, forgiving all in the name of God, because God forgives everything. let light be in your hearts, in your families, in your cities. And now, with this wish, turn on the light.
Blessed be God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Merry Christmas and pray for me.