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Pope will celebrate Christmas tonight; visits Benedict

Pope Francis will celebrate the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord tonight in St.Peter's Basilica at 9:30 Rome time, the Vatican has announced. The Holy See has also published the Mass Book that will be used for tonight's liturgy and placed it online so that people around the world can follow along. The Mass will air live on the American Catholic television network EWTN, and on tape delay at 11:30 pm on most NBC stations in the United States.

Pope Francis will celebrate the traditional Christmas Mass at Night tonight at 9:30 Rome time.
Pope Francis will celebrate the traditional Christmas Mass at Night tonight at 9:30 Rome time.
Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Tomorrow, the Holy Father will address the People of God with a message Urbi et Orbi (to the City and the World) marking the Feast of the Incarnation at around Noon in Rome. While Masses will be offered in St. Peter's and other Major and Minor Basilicas of the Diocese of Rome on Christmas Day proper, the Papal celebration will be the Mass at Night tonight. The Holy Father is not planning a public celebration of the Mass at which he is the principle celebrant on Christmas Day proper.

It has been revealed that Pope Francis visited and prayed with Supreme Pontiff Emeritus Benedict XVI yesterday at Mater Ecclesia Monastery where the former Pope lives a monastic life. The two prayed in the monastery chapel and had conversation and exchanged Christmas greetings in a sitting room. The meeting may mark the first time in history that a current Pope has visited a former Vicar of Christ to offer Christmas tidings to a former holder of the pontifical office.