Worshippers gathered to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis as he lead a Christmas Eve mass in St Peter’s Basilica.
Francis assured the faithful that God loves everyone – ‘even the worst of us’ – following a year of scandals and opposition.
With a choir singing the classic Christmas hymn ‘The First Noel,’ Francis processed down the center aisle late Tuesday and unveiled a statue of the newborn Jesus lying in a nativity scene at the foot of the altar.
This comes as pilgrims from around the world gathered in the biblical city of Bethlehem, revered by Christians as the birthplace of Jesus, to celebrate.
Thousands of Palestinians and foreigners converged on the ‘little town’ in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, with festivities taking place in and around the Church of the Nativity.
Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and the most senior Roman Catholic official in the Middle East, arrived from the holy city at the head of a procession.