A first: Pope Francis celebrates Simbang Gabi in Rome
MANILA, Philippines — For the first time, Filipinos in Rome will start the traditional “Simbang Gabi” with no less than Pope Francis celebrating the first of the nine dawn Masses leading to Christmas.
According to Fr. Ricky Gente of the Filipino Chaplaincy in Rome, the Pontiff is scheduled to preside over that Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica on Dec. 15 at 4:30 p.m. (10:30 p.m. Manila time).
This is the first time that the Pope would be celebrating the dawn mass four years after the Filipino community began holding the tradition at the basilica, Gente said on CBCPNews, the official news service of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
Gente added that around 150 priests will concelebrate with the Pope, including Cardinal Vicar Angelo de Donatis, the Vicar of Rome, and Fr. Leonir Chiarello, head of the Scalabrinians worldwide.
Also expected to attend the Mass are Ambassador to the Holy See Grace Relucio-Princesa and Ambassador to Italy Domingo Nolasco.
Due to the basilica’s limited seating capacity, only 7,500 Filipino churchgoers would be accommodated. The eight remaining dawn Masses leading to Christmas will be held at the Santa Pudenziana Basilica.–Jovic Yee
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