By Vatican News staff writer
Current Covid-19 precautionary measures have defined the times and the modalities of social living during the pandemic. Pope Francis’ Christmas and New Year calendar is no exception. Thus, Christmas Night Mass has been anticipated to 7.30pm Rome time, and participation in person in all Vatican Christmas and New Year ceremonies will be very limited.
A communiqué released by the Vatican Press Office on Thursday revealed ceremonies for the Christmas festivities begin with Christmas Night Mass on 24 December in St. Peter's Basilica. This will be followed by the "Urbi et Orbi" Blessing on Christmas Day at noon, while on Thursday, 31 December, Pope Francis will celebrate the First Vespers and the Te Deum in thanksgiving for the past year at 5pm in St Peter’s Basilica.
On Friday, 1 January, on the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, and the 54th World Day of Peace, the Pope will preside at Mass in St. Peter's at 10am. Finally, on the Solemnity of the Epiphany, Mass will be celebrated at 10am.in the Vatican Basilica. All times indicated refer to local Rome time.
Noting compliance with Covid-19 protection measures, the communiqué specified that only a limited number of participants will be present, and that they will be screened according to methods used in recent months to curb the spread of the virus. Of course all celebrations will be broadcast live on the media and streamed live on social media platforms.
Prior to the holiday appointments, the Pope will preside over Mass for the 125th anniversary of the Coronation of Our Lady of Guadalupe in St. Peter's Basilica on Saturday, 12 December. Upon mandate of the Pope, the Apostolic Penitentiary has extended the possibility of obtaining a plenary indulgence to the faithful across the world who participate in that Mass from home.