Pope Francis to celebrate Simbang Gabi at St. Peter’s Basilica, the 1st-ever by a Pontiff

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Pope Francis Simbang Gabi
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila greets Pope Francis during World Youth Day in Panama City on Jan. 26, 2019. Credits to CBCP News.

Pope Francis, the leader of the Catholic Church, will celebrate the first of the nine-day traditional Simbang Gabi Masses for the Filipino community on December 15 (Sunday) at the St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) announced on December 6 that the first-ever Misa de Gallo mass celebrated by a Pope is scheduled at 4:30 p.m. (Rome time), that’s 10:30 p.m. Manila time.

The Simbang Gabi, Misa de Gallo or Aguinaldo Masses (rooster’s Mass or early morning Mass or dawn Mass), is considered the most distinctive Christmas tradition in the Philippines.

“This is the fourth year that we celebrate it in the Basilica, but (this is) the first time that the Pope will be the one to preside,” Fr. Ricky Gente of the Filipino Chaplaincy in Rome said as quoted by the official news agency of the CBCP.

Pope Francis greets the crowd during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Dec. 4, 2019. PAUL HARING/CNS via CBCP News.

Around 150 priests are concelebrating the Mass, including Cardinal Vicar Angelo de Donatis, the Vicar of Rome, and Fr. Leonir Chiarello, head of the Scalabrinians worldwide.

Philippine Ambassador to the Holy See Grace Relucio-Princesa and the country’s envoy to Italy, Domingo Nolasco, are also attending the occasion.

Gente said only 7,500 Filipino churchgoers would be able to enter the basilica due to the limited space.

The remaining eight dawn masses will be held at the Santa Pudenziana Basilica, designated as the official church of the Filipinos by then Pope and now St. John Paul II.

SEND cheers and Christmas greetings in the comments below to the Vatican and the Filipino community in Italy!

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