Pope Francis will celebrate the Vatican’s traditional Christmas “Mass during the Night” on 24th December, but will begin the liturgy at 7:30pm local time so that the few people invited to attend can get home in time to observe Italy’s 10pm curfew.
The curfew is one of many measures the Italian government has employed in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
In addition to the early start time, the Vatican’s Covid-19 measures are still in force: only a small congregation will be allowed inside the basilica; people’s temperatures are checked as they arrive; masks are required for the congregation and servers; the seating is socially distanced.
While the nighttime Mass often is referred to as “Midnight Mass,” it has not been celebrated at midnight at the Vatican since 2009 when Pope Benedict XVI moved it to 10pm. Pope Francis moved it to 9:30pm in 2013, his first Christmas as pope.
The pope’s Christmas blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world) will be given, as usual, at noon Christmas Day from the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica.
Other liturgies announced by the Vatican on 10th December include:
– 31st December, 5pm, evening prayer and the singing of the “Te Deum” in St Peter’s Basilica to thank God for the past year.
– 1st January, 10am, Mass in St Peter’s Basilica for the feast of Mary, Mother of God, and World Peace Day.
– 6th January, 10am, Mass in St Peter’s Basilica for the feast of the Epiphany.
Picture: Pope Francis carries a figurine of the baby Jesus at the conclusion of Christmas Mass in St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on 24th December 2019. (CNS photo/Paul Haring).