.- The Vatican has issued the calendar of all liturgical celebrations that Pope Francis is slated to preside over during the Advent and Christmas seasons, extending through January of 2014.
Pope Francis opened the liturgical new year by celebrating first Vespers on Saturday, Nov. 30 inside of St. Peter’s Basilica in anticipation of the First Sunday of Advent.
During this celebration, the Pope gave a special address to university students, encouraging the youth to go against the tide of secular culture.
The next day, Dec. 1, the pontiff made a pastoral visit to the Roman parish of “San Cirillo Alessandrino,” Saint Cyril of Alexandria, where he celebrated Mass for the First Sunday of Advent at 6 p.m., administering the Sacrament of Confirmation to youths present and emphasizing to parishioners that life is a journey of encounter with Christ.
On Sunday Dec. 8 in honor of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Pope will pay homage to Mary Immaculate at 4 p.m. in Rome’s Piazza di Spagna.
Tuesday Dec. 24, Pope Francis will celebrate the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord with Midnight Mass, which will be held at 9:30 p.m. in the Papal Chapel of the Vatican Basilica.
Christmas day, Wednesday Dec. 25, the pontiff will honor the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord with a special “Urbi et Orbi” blessing at 12 p.m. from the central loggia of the Vatican Basilica.
The “Urbi et Orbi” is a special blessing which includes a papal address and an Apostolic Blessing given to the city of Rome and to the entire world on certain significant occasions in the Church.
On Tuesday Dec. 31, Pope Francis will celebrate the first Vespers and “Te Deum” at 5 p.m. in the Vatican Basilica for the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God, offering special thanksgiving for the past year.
In January, the Pope will honor the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God and 47th World Day of Peace, both occuring on the first of the month, with Mass in the Vatican Basilica at 10 a.m.
For the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord on Monday Jan. 6, the pontiff will celebrate Mass in the Vatican Basilica at 10 a.m.
Pope Francis will bring his Christmas celebrations to a close on Sunday Jan. 12 for First Sunday after the Epiphany, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, by offering a special Mass, and baptizing newborns in the Sistine Chapel at 9:45 a.m.