Pope Francis’ quiet Covid Christmas

Cristina Cabrejas

Vatican City, Dec. 23 (efe-epa).- Pope Francis is preparing to celebrate an unusually quiet Christmas, being held this year behind closed doors and without his flock, who are all barred from gathering in St. Peter’s Square for the traditional Urbi et Orbi blessing due to the lockdown in Rome.

St. Peter’s Square, which would normally be filled with visitors admiring the Nativity scene and the imposing illuminated Christmas tree and faithful Catholics, will be completely empty.


The regulations in force throughout the country have meant that public sermons have been suspended for months. The masses that Francis officiates are held for just a handful of residents of Vatican City.

The same restrictions will be in force for the midnight mass, known as the Misa de Gallo (or Rooster’s Mass), officiated by the Pope in the Vatican Basilica, one of the most important Catholic events of the year which would normally gather thousands of people.

Due to the curfew that in Italy begins at 10 pm, the Pontiff’s Mass at St. Peter’s will be celebrated at 7:30 pm in front of a few faithful in one of the apses of the basilica instead of at the central altar.

The intimate gathering will be in stark contrast to the solemn ceremonies of previous years, with the Pope surrounded by children carrying offerings to the baby Jesus.

The next day, December 25, the pope will read his Christmas message from the balcony of the central lodge on the façade of the basilica, the place where the pontiffs are presented to the world after their election.

This time, Francisco will read the Christmas message and impart the Urbi et Orbi blessing, to the city and the world, from the Hall of Blessings in the basilica, since no one will be able to access the square because on the lockdown, under which people are only allowed to leave their homes for work or emergencies.

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