Pope Francis celebrates a Filipino Christmas tradition at the Vatican

Catholic News Agency | 12/15/2019 | Staff
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Vatican City, Dec 15, 2019 / 10:00 am (CNA).- On Gaudete Sunday, Pope Francis celebrated a Filipino Christmas tradition in St. Peter’s Basilica -- the Simbang Gabi Christmas novena.

“In the Philippines, for centuries, there has been a novena in preparation for Christmas called Simbang Gabi, 'Mass of the night'. During nine days the Filipino faithful gather at dawn in their parishes for a special Eucharistic celebration,” Pope Francis said Dec. 15.

Celebration - Christmas - Spirit - Word - God

“Through this celebration we want to prepare ourselves for Christmas according to the spirit of the Word of God that we have listened to, remaining constant until the Lord's definitive coming,” he said in his homily for the Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Pope Francis invited Rome’s Filipino community to celebrate Gaudete Sunday Mass at the Vatican in honor of the first day of the traditional novena. It is the first time that a pope has celebrated Simbang Gabi at the Vatican.

Simbang - Gabi - Tradition - Philippines - Century

The Simbang Gabi tradition in the Philippines dates back to the 17th century. Filipinos hang a star outside their homes, and attend early morning Masses on each of the nine days before Christmas.

“In recent decades, thanks to Filipino migrants, this devotion has crossed national borders and has arrived in many other countries. Simbang-Gabi has also been celebrated in the diocese of Rome for years, and today we celebrate it together here, in St. Peter's Basilica,” Pope Francis said.

Pope - Filipino - Community - St - Peter

The pope told the Filipino community gathered in St. Peter’s Basilica that they are called to be “leaven” in their parish communities in Italy, and encouraged them to share their “cultural and spiritual wealth.”

There are over 167,000 Filipinos residing in Italy, according to the Italian Ministry of Labor. Fr. Ricky Gente, chaplain for the Filipino community in Rome, address Pope Francis following the Mass:

Years - Missionaries

“Almost 500 years ago, European missionaries...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Catholic News Agency
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