BENEDICT XVI TO LIGHT THE WORLD'S BIGGEST CHRISTMAS TREE

VATICAN CITY, 6 DEC 2011 (VIS) - On 7 December, Benedict XVI will switch on the lights of the biggest Christmas tree in the world, a "sign of universal peace and brotherhood among peoples" located in the Italian town of Gubbio.

  The "tree", which is made up of an arrangement of coloured lights on the side of Mount Ingino, has been erected by volunteers every year since 1981. Its base is approximately 450 metres wide and it extends for 750 metres up the hillside from the city's mediaeval walls to the basilica of St. Ubaldo. The silhouette of the tree is marked with 300 green lights, and it covers a surface area of some 130,000 square meters illuminated with 400 multicoloured lights. At the top is a comet made up of 250 lights covering an area of 1,000 square metres.

  The tree is illuminated every year on 7 December, during a traditional celebration attended by representatives of the world of culture, show business and politics. Benedict XVI will activate the illumination from his apartments in the Vatican Apostolic Palace. He will touch the screen of a Sony "Tablet" with an "Android" operating system which, via the Internet, will transmit the command to switch on the electric current to the tree.

  The Holy Father will be seen in Gubbio thanks to a television linkup organised by the Vatican Television Centre. The event, which will be televised both nationally and internationally, is due to begin at 5.30 p.m. and the illumination of the tree will take place at 6.30 p.m.
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