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Christmas ‘midnight’ mass to be held earlier: Vatican


Rome : Pope Benedict XVI will hold this year’s Christmas Eve midnight mass at St Peter’s basilica two hours earlier, the Vatican has announced.

“This is in order not to tire His Holiness,” said the Vatican’s Office of Papal Liturgical Celebrations, quoted by Italian media Monday.

It is the first time the world-famous Christmas midnight mass has been brought forward, the Vatican confirmed.

The service will begin at 10 p.m. and finish by midnight.

During the papacy of Benedict’s predecessor John Paul II, the traditional midnight Easter Vigil was on several occasions brought forward, the Vatican said.

“The Holy Saturday Easter Vigil was brought forward many times under John Paul II. Initially it was brought forward to 11 p.m., and later on to 10 p.m. and even to 8 p.m. when the pontiff was ill,” said the Office of Papal Liturgical Celebrations, quoted in media reports.

The Vatican says the 82-year-old pontiff is in good health but has some age-related problems.

His doctors are reportedly keen to ensure he is fit to deliver his traditional “Urbi et Orbi” message in St Peter’s Square on Christmas Day Dec 25.

Benedict XVI was elected Pope at the age of 78. He is the oldest person to have been elected pontiff since Pope Clement XII (1730-40).

He had served longer as a cardinal than any pope since Benedict XIII (1724-30).