the Pope condemned the increasing commercialisation of Christmas as he celebrated Christmas Eve Mass, urging the faithful to look beyond the holiday’s “superficial glitter” to discover its true meaning.
He presided over the service in a packed St Peter’s Basilica, kicking off an intense two weeks of Christmas-related public appearances that will test the 84-year-old pontiff’s stamina amid signs that fatigue is starting to slow him down.
The Christmas Eve Mass was moved to 10pm from midnight several years ago to spare the Pope a late night that is followed by an important Christmas Day speech.
In a new concession this year, the Pope processed down the basilica’s central aisle on a moving platform to spare him the long walk.
He appeared tired by the end of the Mass and a dry cough interrupted his homily.
In Bethlehem, hundreds of Christians, defying lashing rain and wind, filled the ancient church that marks Jesus’s traditional birthplace for Christmas Day Mass today.Worshippers rushed into the Church of the Nativity under the cover of umbrellas, leaving Manger Square, with its 50ft Christmas tree, deserted.
The sanctuary was packed as supplicants prayed.