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A Slovenian Christmas tree lights up the Vatican

A Slovenian Christmas tree, a spruce from the Kočevsko forests, has been lit up in all its beauty today in St Peter’s Square in the Vatican. The tree is decorated with handmade ethnographic ornaments. The keynote speaker at the event was Dr Anže Logar, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

In his address, Minister Logar noted that this is the second time a Christmas tree from Slovenia has adorned St Peter’s Square. The first time was in 1996. He emphasised that the execution of such a project during the very difficult times that we are experiencing now proved that it can be done. There is much symbolism in the event; the Slovenian Christmas tree lights up the central Vatican square as we head into 2021, the year which marks the thirtieth anniversary of Slovenia’s independence. Minister Logar highlighted that the Holy See was one of the first to officially recognise the young Slovenian state. The then Pope John Paul II supported Slovenia’s efforts for independence even before that. The Minister also remembered the efforts of the late Ljubljana Archbishop, Dr Alojzij Šuštar, and Dr Štefan Falež, the first Slovenian Ambassador to the Holy See. This Christmas tree gift thus serves as a gesture of appreciation to the Holy See for its support upon the emergence of the Slovenian state and represents Slovenia as a nation with Christian roots.

Minister Logar stated that the Holy See was an important discussion partner within the Slovenian foreign policy strategy in Europe and the world. This is especially regarding the issues of peace, development, religious freedom, intercultural and interreligious dialogue, cultural identity, or when dealing with humanitarian and other global issues highlighted by Pope Francis.

The Slovenian Christmas tree at the centre of Christianity carries the message of peace. Minister Logar thanked everyone involved in the project: foresters, those who made decorations at intergenerational workshops, musicians, haulage specialists and others.

At the end of his address, the Minister invited all of those who will admire the Slovenian Christmas tree, which has travelled from the Kočevsko primeval forest to the holy city, to visit Slovenia. He wished everyone a blessed Christmas and all the best in the new year 2021.

Today started with a holy mass for the homeland in St Peter’s Basilica and was followed by an audience with Pope Francis, which was attended by Dr Anže Logar, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Jože Podgoršek, Minister of Agriculture, Jakob Štunf, Slovenian Ambassador to the Holy See, and others. Dr Anže Logar, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Dr Jože Podgoršek, Minister of Agriculture, also met with high representatives of the Vatican. Minister Logar attended a meeting with Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary of the Holy See for Relations with States, and was also received by the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin. The discussion partners spoke about the topical issues in Europe and around the world. They particularly focused on humanitarian issues, protection of society's most vulnerable groups, the importance of combating poverty and the provision of sustainable development. Dr Jože Podgoršek, Minister of Agriculture, met Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and Teresa Bellanova, the Italian Minister of Agriculture.

A feast for homeless people was also organised yesterday in the Christmas spirit of charity and included the Kranjska sausage and potica nut roll.

The video recording of today’s event in St Peter’s Square in the Vatican will be broadcast on 25 December 2020 on channel 1 of RTV Slovenija.