Pope celebrates Mass to usher in Christmas

first_img160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! For those unable to get into the midnight service there were giant screens set up in St. Peter’s Square, which was made festive with a twinkling Christmas tree and the Vatican’s Nativity scene. Officials unveiled the life-size Nativity on Monday, revealing the statues of Mary and Joseph, Jesus’ parents, in a huge house-like structure located next to the Vatican’s giant, twinkling Christmas tree. This year, the scene of Jesus’ birth was depicted in a re-creation of Joseph’s Nazareth home rather than the traditional manger in Bethlehem. Officials at the unveiling said the shift underscored the idea that Jesus was born not just in a single place, but everywhere and for everyone. Hours before Midnight Mass, Benedict briefly appeared at his studio window to light a candle as a symbol of peace, blessing the crowd with the light before leaving it on the sill. At noon today (2 a.m. PST), Benedict was to deliver his traditional Christmas Day “Urbi et Orbi” speech – Latin for “to the city and to the world” – from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, in which he often touches on current events and issues of concern to the Vatican. He then is expected to issue Christmas greetings to the faithful in more than 60 languages. VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI ushered in Christmas as he led Midnight Mass early today amid thousands of the faithful who filled St. Peter’s Basilica. Dressed in white and gold-colored robes, Benedict blessed the crowd of pilgrims, Romans and tourists as he walked in a procession up the main aisle to the central altar, which was decorated with red poinsettia flowers. As a choir sang, Benedict sprinkled incense on the altar under Bernini’s massive bronze baldachin before opening the service with the traditional wish for peace in Latin: “Pax vobis” (“Peace be with you”). The faithful responded: “Et cum spiritu tuo.” (“And also with you.”) Four children, some in native costume from their countries, brought flowers to the altar, placing them near a statue depicting baby Jesus while Benedict joined a choir in a hymn. last_img

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