ROME — A towering Christmas tree that survived a lightning strike in Poland has been set up in St. Peter’s Square as the Vatican gets ready for the holidays.

The tree, which was pulled into place Thursday by a crane, will be decorated and illuminated on Dec. 7 during a ceremony.

The spruce is 69 feet high and comes from northern Poland’s Mazury region, known for its many lakes.

About 60 years old, the tree lost its tip when it was hit by lighting some years ago.

It was transported to Rome by truck in a 12-day journey from Poland to the heart of St. Peter’s Square, which draws huge crowds of tourists and pilgrims at Christmastime.

Christmas trees are a northern European custom, and only recently introduced to Italy. The Vatican Christmas tree was first commissioned by Pope St. John Paul II in 1982.

In addition, a life-size nativity scene will be set up in the square, and unveiled on Christmas Eve.

Crux staff contributed to this report.