Pope Francis’ first Advent and Christmas at the Vatican will be as liturgically busy as those of his predecessor with no change in custom.
As Benedict XVI did during the last years of his pontificate, the Holy Father will celebrate Midnight Mass in St. Peter’s basilica at an earlier time, and unlike Blessed John Paul II, he won’t be celebrating an additional Mass on Christmas Day morning.
Msgr. Guido Marini, master of papal liturgical ceremonies, recently published the following liturgy schedule for Pope Francis during December and January:
* Pope Francis will celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary on Dec. 8 by visiting Rome’s Spanish Steps where he will pray before an image of Mary.
* At 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 24, he will begin the celebration of Christmas Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.
* At noon on Christmas Day, from the loggia of St. Peter’s basilica, he will address the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square and give his blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world).
* The Pope will celebrate evening prayer Dec. 31 in St. Peter’s Basilica and lead the “Te Deum” in thanksgiving to God for the year that is ending.
* On Jan. 1, the feast of Mary, Mother of God, and the World Day of Prayer for Peace, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at 10 a.m. in St. Peter’s Basilica. The theme for 2014 is “Fraternity, the foundation and pathway to peace.”
* On Jan. 6, the feast of the Epiphany, the Holy Father will celebrate Mass at 10 a.m. in St. Peter’s Basilica.
* On the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Jan. 12, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass in the Sistine Chapel and baptize infants.