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The Christmas tree is positioned in St Peter's Square (Photo: CNS)

An 82ft Bavarian fir tree is already in place ready to mark the beginning of the Holy Year

Pope Francis (AP)

Pope Francis addressed the crowd gathered in St Peter’s Square on Sunday

French peacekeeping soldiers patrolling the city of Bangui in Central African Republic in September (PA)

Francis is due to visit the troubled country later this month

Pope Francis waves as he leaves at the end of the synod  (AP)

The Pope referred to the conclusion of the synod on the family during his Angelus address

Pope Francis greets faithful as he arrives for his weekly general audience (AP)

At his general audience, the Pope prayed for the intercession of ‘the pope of the family’, St John Paul II

The Gift of Mercy, a shelter for homeless men (CNS)

Housed in a Jesuit-owned building, the Gift of Mercy shelter was created by funds from the papal almoner

Pope Francis delivers a blessing as he arrives in St Peter's Square today  (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Francis made the surprise comments at today’s general audience in St Peter’s Square

St Peter's Square (AP)

The event will take place in April next year as part of the Jubilee Year of Mercy celebrations

Ukrainian servicemen march with flags during the celebration of the  24th anniversary of Ukraine's independence from the Soviet Union in Kiev (CNS)

Francis urged a ‘response to the humanitarian emergency in the country’ during his address to crowds in St Peter’s Square on Sunday

Pope Francis delivers his blessing from the window of his studio overlooking St Peter's Square on Sunday (AP)

For the first time in 60 years, the public recited the Assumption day Angelus prayer with a Pope at the Vatican