The Pope addressed some 8,000 soldiers that had participated in a Mass for the Italian armed forces, celebrated today in St. Peter's Basilica by the military bishop of Italy, Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco.

"In the novena of Christmas that we begin today and continue until the Holy Night," the Holy Father said after the Eucharistic celebration, "the liturgy with increasing intensity has us repeating: 'Come, Lord Jesus!'"

"On Christmas the awaited Messiah will come," he said, "the redeemer will come to liberate us and he will break the chains of error, of egoism, or sin, which makes us prisoners."

"It is so important to prepare yourself to receive him with humility and sincerity," said Benedict XVI.

The Pope's expressed his wish that these last days of Advent will be used to strengthen in each one "the desire to encounter Christ, the prince of peace, source of our authentic joy."