This is St Peter’s Basilica, Rome, Italy, the largest church in the world as well as the headquarters for the Roman Catholic Church. which has 1.2 billion members across the world.( Interesting, that number is the estimated population of India. . . .) India, always incredible India!)
Christmas Eve is an important time in the church with the midnight mass ushering in the birthday of the Christ child. One Christmas, the Bells were all together in Rome. First we had an amazing Christmas Eve dinner of 24 kinds of fish dishes at a friend’s home. Fish has been the meat of Fridays for Catholic believers as Friday was the day of the Crucifixion of Christ, and in memory, for years, it became a fasting or no meat day. The twenty four is for the date of Christmas Eve. There is controversy about whether this is the date of His birth or chosen as an arbitrary date in connection with the solstice. But non the less , it is the date chosen and now set by years and years of tradition. At this amazing dinner, that was a tad uncomfortable for me because I eat very little if any fish, we were served various kinds of fish cook in 24 dishes for the date of December 24. Well, I was so looking forward to seeing midnight mass. We had been given tickets from a very devout friend, yes tickets to the coveted mass. No money is charged, the tickets are only for crowd control. We were running late from the dinner and had to almost run to St Peters. We actually got in but there were so many people it was impossible to get to the chairs near the alter. All the lights were illuminated and both organs were belting out in accompaniment for the huge crowd singing as they waited for the for the mass to begin. You might think it strange that I mentioned these details, but I had only remembered the lights on and the gold and marble shimmering with the organs playing and the congregation singing….all that at once, on one feast day with Pope John Paul II entering the church. It is an amazing interior any time, but totally breathtaking with the lights, organs, and singing.
I was very disappointed ( and acted rather in an angry, unchristian way) not to experience the mass, but I certainly felt as if I had a taste of the first Christmas with the crowds, and pushing , and excitement. This video is from the Piazza St. Peters showing the other people unable to be inside. If you want to see the interior and the mass, it is rebroadcast at midnight in the United States, and I expect at that time in other countries or there are other videos on YouTube.( Check your TV for exact time.)
Merry Christmas, my dear friends!
Image from Google Images. . . .public domain
This Is Christmas Eve in Roma!