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.
“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.
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.
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