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52 feet wide Sand Sculpture at St Peter’s Square, Rome shows birth of Jesus

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By Satyen Mohapatra: As Christian catholic worshipers from all over the world will gather at St Peter’s Square, Vatican City, in front of St Peter’s Basilica to hear the Pope at noon on Christmas Day, they would witness a huge Nativity Scene created out of sand grounds.

Nativity scene usually represents the birth of Jesus, with infant Jesus usually shown lying in a manger, a trough for cattle feed, his mother Mary,and her husband Joseph,with shepherds,sheep,angels, in the barn meant for farm animals. Sometimes Donkey, Ox, Camels are also depicted.

The Vatican’s nativity scene was sculpted by four sculptors. The work was started on Nov.17. To build the Nativity Scene of a scale (52 foot wide) to be visible from a distance, required nearly 46,000 cubic feet of sand equal to 700 tons.

This is for the first time that Vatican will be show-casing Sand Nativity .The sand art piece in St. Peter’s Square features the traditional iconic scene with the angel with Jesus, Joseph and Mary and then the three kings on one side , the shepherd, the sheep on the other side with the Donkey and the Ox.

The sculptors have come from the City of Jesolo, a sea side resort town in Venice, where for past many years international sand artists have been gathering to create sand nativities during Christmas making monumental sculptures such as the story of Adam and Eve, the courage of David against Goliath, the prophet Moses and the Ten commandments, among others.

This year the sand artists plan to demonstrate their skill by creating a spectacular sand manger scene in the heart of Christianity St Peter’s Square in Vatican City.

The creators, who have been sculpting sand nativities in the Italian town of Jesolo for years are reported have said that their goal is “to build the largest sand nativity in Christendom in the center of Rome in order to provide moments of authentic and joyful contemplation to all those who love Christmas.”

The four sand sculptors come from Holland, Russia, the Czech Republic and USA. The team is led by U.S. sculptor Rich Varano from New Smyrna Beach, Florida with 40 years experience. The process of creating the sculptures involves compressing sand and water into blocks that are then sculpted to life-size figures.

The Sand Nativity was revealed today, coinciding with the lighting ceremony of the St. Peter’s Square Christmas tree. Pope St. John Paul II started the tradition to have a tree in the Square in 1982.

This year a 42-foot-tall red spruce tree has been donated by the Diocese of Concordia-Pordenone in the northern Italian region weighing 4.5 tonne. The “Sand Nativity” scene and tree will remain in St. Peter’s Square until the feast of the Lord’s Baptism January 13.