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(E) Croatia to donate Christmas tree to Vatican this year
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  10/11/2002 | Religion | Unrated
(E) Croatia to donate Christmas tree to Vatican this year

 

Croatia to donate Christmas tree to Vatican this year 

AP World Politics
Croatia to donate Christmas tree to Vatican this year 
Mon Oct 7,12:04 PM ET


ZAGREB, Croatia - The Vatican's Christmas tree will come this year from one of the papacy's strongest pillars in southeastern Europe — Croatia — and the country's president is to attend its lighting, officials said Monday. 


President Stipe Mesic will travel to the Vatican in December, said his spokeswoman, Danijela Barisic. 

The main tree will flank a life-sized creche scene at St. Peter's Square in Rome. Croatia also will donate 30 smaller trees, all from its mountainous, forested region of Gorski Kotar, including one slated for the residence of the Pope John Paul ( news - web sites) II. 

Countries vie for the prestige of having one of their towering evergreens picked for the Vatican, which started the tree-lighting ceremony in 1982. Last year, the tree came from the Orthodox Romania. 

Eighty percent of Croatia's 4.5 million people consider themselves practicing Roman Catholics. 

John Paul II visited Croatia twice since it declared independence from Yugoslavia 11 years ago. Despite his frail health, the 82-year-old pontiff plans to come again next spring. 

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