Pope Francis celebrates Christmas Eve Mass as virus surges in Italy

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ROME — Pope Francis celebrated Christmas Eve Mass before an estimated 2,000 people in St. Peter’s Basilica on Friday, going ahead with the service despite the resurgence in COVID-19 cases that has prompted a new vaccine mandate for Vatican employees.

A maskless Francis processed down the central aisle as the Sistine Chapel choir sang “Noel,” kicking off the Vatican’s Christmas holiday that commemorates the birth of Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem. He remained maskless throughout the service.

In his homily, Francis urged the faithful to focus on the “littleness” of Jesus, and remember that He came into the world poor, without even a proper crib.

POPE FRANCIS PREACHES ON HUMILITY IN CHRISTMAS ADDRESS

“That is where God is, in littleness,” Francis said. “This is the message: God does not rise up in grandeur, but lowers Himself into littleness. Littleness is the path that He chose to…

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