Pope Francis holds communion as he celebrates Mass for the Filipino community on Dec. 15, 2019 at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.
AFP/Tiziana Fabi
Pope Francis thanks Filipino migrants as he leads Simbang Gabi in Vatican
Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - December 16, 2019 - 11:10am

MANILA, Philippines — Pope Francis celebrated the Simbang Gabi Christmas novena at St. Peter’s Basilica—the first time that a pope presided over the Filipino tradition in Vatican City.

In a mass Sunday afternoon (10:30 p.m. Manila time), Pope Francis expressed his appreciation to the Filipino community gathered at the global center of the Roman Catholic Church. 

“In recent decades, thanks to Filipino migrants, this devotion has crossed national borders and has arrived in many other countries,” the pope was quoted as saying in a Vatican News report.

He also stressed that the individuals who had left their homes in search of a better future “have special mission.”

“Your faith is leaven in the parish communities to which you belong today. I encourage you to increase opportunities for meeting to share your cultural and spiritual wealth, while at the same time allowing yourselves to be enriched by the experiences of other,” Pope Francis said.

Simbang Gabi is observed by Filipinos by attending mass at dawn or in the evening for nine consecutive days prior to the Christmas Day celebration.

Simbang Gabi has already been held at St. Peter’s Basilica but it was the first time that a pope presided over the celebration. It was celebrated a week after Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle was appointed as the new prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

“We are all called to practice charity together with those who live in existential peripheries, using our different gifts to renew the signs of the presence of the Kingdom. Together, we are all called to proclaim the Gospel, the good news of salvation, in all languages, so as to reach as many people as possible,” Pope Francis said.

POPE FRANCIS SIMBANG GABI
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