VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI Wednesday inaugurated this year's Christmas creche, appearing at his window in the Vatican apartments to light a candle and greet the crowd in St Peter's Square. The nativity scene depicting the birth of Jesus Christ erected in the famous piazza features figures dating from 1842. Benedict's predecessor John Paul II paid homage to Italy's longstanding artistic tradition of manger scenes with the first of an annual series set up in St Peter's Square in 1982. The inauguration of this year's creche was followed by a prayer vigil for peace led by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican's "foreign minister". The pope was to celebrate the traditional midnight Christmas mass along with 32 cardinals in St Peter's Basilica, Christianity's grandest religious edifice.