VATICAN CITY, DEC. 23, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff published the list of Christmas ceremonies over which Benedict XVI will preside.
As is traditional, the Holy Father will celebrate the principal Masses of the four solemnities: the Nativity, Holy Mary Mother of God, Epiphany and the Lord’s Baptism — in total four Eucharistic celebrations and solemn vespers on Dec. 31.
In general, the official language of the celebrations will be Latin. Other languages will be used at some points in the liturgies.
In some of the celebrations, cardinals will assist the Pope as deacons, but will not concelebrate. This is rooted in historical tradition, as cardinals “have always guaranteed liturgical service to the Pope,” stated the Office.
In regard to the Pope’s liturgical vestments, “there will be no special novelties,” and they “will be chosen in the sense of continuity and healthy balance between the past and present, varying the styles adopted and in the sense of the noble beauty that corresponds to the celebration of the Lord’s mysteries,” added the Office.
Dates and times
On Friday evening the Pope will celebrate Christmas Eve midnight Mass at 10 p.m. in St. Peter’s Basilica.
When the Gloria is sung, the Pope will place the Child Jesus in the crib. Several children from around the world will present flowers.
The following day at 12 noon, he will give a Christmas message from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, and the blessing “Urbi et Orbi” (“To the city of Rome and to the World”).
The office of liturgical celebrations noted that this blessing bestows a plenary indulgence if it is received with the necessary conditions.
The day after Christmas, Benedict XVI will offer a meal for the poor on the grounds of Paul VI Hall with the assistance of the Missionaries of Charity from various communities in Rome. This initiative commemorates the centenary of the birth of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, founder of the congregation.
On Dec. 31, the eve of the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God, the Pontiff will preside over vespers in St. Peter’s Basilica, beginning at 6 p.m. This will be followed by exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, the singing of the “Te Deum” for the closing of the calendar year, and benediction.
The following day, the Holy Father will preside over a concelebrated Mass at 10 a.m. for the feast of Mary the Mother of God. Cardinals Angelo Amato and Mauro Piacenza will assist the Pope as deacons. That day, the Pope will give his Message for the World Day of Peace.
On Jan. 6 at 10 a.m., he will preside over the Eucharistic celebration for the feast of the Epiphany. Cardinals Gianfranco Ravasi and Walter Brandmuller will serve as deacons.
The day before, the Pope is scheduled to visit the pediatric unit of the Gemelli Polyclinic at 5 p.m. to distribute gifts to the children for the feast of the three kings. At this time, he will also bless a center that will specialize in treating children with spinal bifida.
Benedict XVI will preside over the Mass for the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord on Jan. 9 at 10 a.m. in the Sistine Chapel. He will baptize 22 babies, all children of Vatican workers. The siblings of those baptized will have an important role in the celebration, especially at the offertory.
The Office for Liturgical Celebrations explained that the old altar of the Chapel will be used that day, which means that at times the Holy Father will celebrate with his back to the assembly.