WATCH: Cardinal Chito Tagle celebrates 1st Simbang Gabi as Vatican official in Rome

Simbang Gabi Vatican
Cardinal Luis Antonio “Chito” Tagle celebrated his first Simbang Gabi at the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore for Filipinos in Rome. Photo from Vatican News.

Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio “Chito” Tagle has celebrated his first “Simbang Gabi” as a Vatican official in Rome leading the Holy Mass at the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, considered the largest Catholic Marian church.

Cardinal Tagle, the Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples who was installed in early 2020, celebrated this year’s Simbang Gabi on December 20, at 3:30 p.m. (10:30 p.m. PHL Time) at the Basilica of Saint Mary Major.

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Sentro Pilipino Chaplaincy priest, Fr. Ricky Gente shared that the Pope earlier agreed to hold Simbang Gabi in St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, where the pre-dawn Mass had been held in the last four years, but the venue was instead changed to the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. The Parish Council explained that the ancient Basilica allowed more than 200 churchgoers.

The Simbang Gabi Novena Mass in Rome was attended by a limited number of churchgoers from the Filipino Catholic community due to strict covid-19 restrictions in Italy.

To accommodate more people to participate in the Holy Mass, the Santa Pudenziana Basilica – the Filipino church in Rome, also opened its doors to 70 churchgoers who observed the Cardinal’s Simbang Gabi through a white screen where the Mass’ live streaming was projected.

The Novena Masses are also known as Aguinaldo Masses, Misa de Gallo, or Simbang Gabi, which are traditionally held at dawn from December 16 to 24. They are part of a long-held Filipino Christmas tradition as well as powerful expressions of the Catholic faith.

Last year, Pope Francis marked a milestone for the Filipino Catholic community as he celebrated the Vatican’s first-ever Papal-led “Simbang Gabi” where Filipino priest Fr. Ricky Gente thanked Pope Francis for leading the Simbang Gabi Holy Mass on behalf of the Filipino community.

Important online and offline guidelines were earlier released by the Philippine Catholic church for the Filipino faithful observing Simbang Gabi.

Here’s a list of historic churches in the Philippines live streaming Simbang Gabi for those who wish to observe the Filipino Christmas tradition in the safety of their own homes amid the coronavirus disease pandemic.

WATCH Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle preside over his first Simbang Gabi in Rome streamed live from the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore via Pontificio Collegio Filippino below.

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Margo Hannah De Guzman Quadra
Margo is a voracious reader - some might even say she reads too much for her own good. She majored in BS Psychology and hopes to become a forensic psychologist one day. She’s also an aspiring writer, mental health advocate, and a staunch believer of equality.