Vatican announces pope's Christmas schedule

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI will preside over a full schedule of public Masses and prayer services over the Advent and Christmas season.

The Vatican released the pope's calendar of liturgical celebrations Nov. 9.

The pope is scheduled to:

- Lead an evening prayer service with Rome university students in St. Peter's Basilica Dec. 1.

- Pay homage to Mary on the feast of the Immaculate Conception Dec. 8 with an afternoon visit to a statue of Mary erected near the Spanish Steps.

- Celebrate a morning Mass at a Rome parish Dec. 16.

- Celebrate Christmas Mass in St. Peter's Basilica Dec. 24, beginning at 10 p.m. Rome time.

- Give a message and the traditional blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city of Rome and to the world) from the central balcony of the basilica at noon Dec. 25.

- Preside over evening prayer in St. Peter's Basilica Dec. 29 with young people attending a European gathering sponsored by the Taize community.

- Preside over evening prayer and offer a prayer of thanks for the past year at a 5 p.m. service in St. Peter's Basilica Dec. 31.

- Preside over Mass at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 1 in St. Peter's Basilica for the feast of Mary, Mother of God, and the World Day of Peace.

- Celebrate Mass for the feast of the Epiphany of the Lord at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 6 in St. Peter's Basilica.

- Mark the feast of the Baptism of the Lord Jan. 13, by celebrating Mass and baptizing infants in the Sistine Chapel.

- Celebrate an evening prayer service closing the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Jan. 25, the feast of the conversion of St. Paul, in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

The pope also planned to hold his annual meeting with cardinals and other officials of the Roman Curia Dec. 21, an encounter that usually provides a review of the past year in the life of the church.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 1970