Pope to celebrate Midnight Mass in St Peter's

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Benedict XVI is gearing up for his Christmas celebrations with Midnight Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.

The Vatican's Christmas festivities begin several hours earlier Wednesday with the unveiling of the larger-than-life Nativity scene next to the Vatican's largest-ever Christmas tree in St. Peter's Square.

Benedict traditionally lights a candle in his studio window at nightfall in a sign of peace.

At midnight he will lead the faithful in Mass celebrating the birth of Christ.

Benedict delivers his traditional Christmas Day "Urbi et Orbi" speech - Latin for "to the city and to the world" - from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica on Thursday, and is then expected to issue Christmas greetings in more than 60 languages.

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