Pope Francis urges countries to strive for peace as he only leads 200 masked believers at a Covid-restricted midnight mass in St. Peter's Church in the early evening
- Pope celebrated mass in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City on Christmas Eve
- Most often, state employees wearing masks attended the papal ceremony
- The mass was held at 7.30 p.m. instead of midnight to comply with Italy's curfew
Pope Francis presided over a smaller midnight mass than in previous years when he called for peace on the masked believers.
The spiritual leader of 1.3 billion Catholics around the world celebrated Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.
Less than 200 people wearing face coverings attended the fair and were mostly employees of the tiny state of Vatican City.
Christmas during the pandemic started early when Pope Francis (pictured) leads midnight mass to masked followers
Less than 200 people wearing face covers attended the fair and were mostly employees of the tiny state of Vatican City (pictured)
The mass, which was traditionally held at midnight, had been postponed by two hours to 7.30 p.m. in order to comply with Italy's curfew.
During the embassy, he expressed his wish to visit crisis-hit Lebanon and called on the political leaders in South Sudan to continue working for peace.
Before the pandemic, several thousand believers and tourists had received valuable tickets for the papal mass.
But on Christmas Eve St. Peter's Square, which is usually full of people, was deserted.
Strict new coronavirus restrictions were put in place on Thursday during the Christmas and New Years period in Italy, the most virus-hit country in Europe.
The country has had nearly 71,000 deaths and more than two million cases since the pandemic began.
The mass, which was traditionally held at midnight, had been brought forward by two hours to 7.30 p.m. in order to comply with the curfew in Italy
Pope Francis, who has just celebrated his 84th birthday, will broadcast his eighth Christmas message "Urbi et orbi" ("to the city and the world") via video on Friday
Pope Francis, who has just celebrated his 84th birthday, will broadcast his eighth Christmas message "Urbi et orbi" ("to the city and the world") via video on Friday.
He will do it from the Apostolic Palace to prevent a crowd from gathering in St. Peter's Square.
Christmas celebrations around the world have changed this year due to the pandemic.
Germany had to cancel its famous Christmas markets, while in Kuwait the churches were closed until January 10th.
In Belgium, residents can only welcome one visitor.
While in the Philippines, some choose to go on vacation alone because of the risk of the virus building up on public transport
Christmas Eve Mass at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem will be closed to the public this year and will be broadcast online.
Only clergy and selected people were allowed to enter the basilica, which was sterilized on the Thursday before the service.
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