Scrooge Christmas averted as new tree found for Vatican

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It could have been a not so merry Christmas for the Vatican this year.

In a sign of seasonal good will, the town of Agnone in the mountainous Molise region of central Italy had agreed to give one of its prize trees to the town of Rosello in the neighboring Abruzzo region so that Rosello could have the honor of donating it to Pope Francis this Christmas.

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Rosello has trees but apparently not as majestic.

But just as the lumberjacks were about to start felling a 54-metre (177 foot) fir that had been selected, forest rangers intervened to stop them, saying the tree was 200 years old and a protected species in a nature reserve.

Officials in both towns were embarrassed because neither side had done their homework properly.

Forest officials saved the day, offering to give Rosello a tree from their property in another part of the Abruzzo mountains so that the town can donate it to the pope.

“It will be a happy Christmas after all,” Col. Gianluca Grossi of the area’s forest police told Reuters.

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