The Vatican Christmas tree was erected in St. Peter’s Square at the beginning of the Advent and of the Christmas holiday season. The 82 feet tall spruce tree arrived in the Square on November 24th from Trentino (Northern Italy region) and will be inaugurated and lit up, together with the Nativity scene, on December 9th. They will highlight several issues such as care for the environment, the sick and migrants.
The Holy Father activities for this year Christmas season will be as follows
On Sundays, on December 8th and 26th, and on January 1st and 6th, at noon in Saint Peter’s Square, the Pope will appear from the window of his apartment, give a short speech followed by the Angelus and blessing. He may also greet the crowds in various languages. The whole event usually lasts around 20mins. No tickets are required.
On Wednesdays, at 10.00 am. Tickets are required to access the seat area, although is still a “first come first served” basis, so to get a good seat you should arrive early (Security opens between 8-8.30am). The Audience lasts about 1 hour and a half – two hours.
Thursday, December 8th: Act of Veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the occasion of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Piazza di Spagna – Spanish Steps, at 4.00 pm. In the morning the firefighters will lay flowers on the statue of the Virgin Mary.
Saturday, December 24th: Solemnity of Our Lord’s Birth – Midnight Mass. Saint Peter’s Basilica at 9.15 pm.
Sunday, December 25th: Solemnity of Our Lord’s Birth – “Urbi et Orbi” Blessing. Central Loggia of the Vatican Basilica, at noon. Pope Francis will give his Christmas blessing “to the city and the world” from the central balcony, overlooking St. Peter’s Square.
Saturday, December 31st: Solemnity of Mary, Most Holy Mother of God – First Vespers and Te Deum. The Pope will preside over evening prayer and the singing of the “Te Deum” in thanksgiving for the year that is ending. Saint Peter’s Basilica, at 5.00 pm.
Wednesday, January 1st: Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God – Holy Mass. Saint Peter’s Basilica at 10.00 am. The pope will celebrate a Morning Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the World Day of Prayer for Peace and the feast of Mary, Mother of God.
Friday, January 6th: Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord – Holy Mass. Saint Peter’s Basilica at 10.00 am.
Sunday, January 8th: Feast of the Baptism of the Lord – Holy Mass and administration of the Sacrament of Baptism to new-born babies. Sistine Chapel 9.30 am.
For all Papal Liturgical celebrations, tickets are required. Check the Prefecture of the Papal Household site for information on how to reserve tickets.
Notice: after December 8th any requests to attend the Christmas Eve Papal Mass, the First Vespers and Te Deum on December 31st and the New Year’s Day Papal Mass cannot be taken into consideration due to the limited number of places available inside St Peter’s Basilica. However, these ceremonies can be freely followed on the giant screens in St Peter’s Square.
Complete calendar: Activities of the Holy Father Pope Francis
Photos: wikipedia, repubblica.it, roma.corriere.it, Gregorio Borgia, Centro Televisivo Vaticano