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CHRISTMAS

Pope calls for humility in Vatican Christmas Eve mass

Pope Francis Friday called on the faithful to value the "little things in life" and show solidarity with the poor in his Christmas Eve mass in St. Peter's Basilica.

Pope Francis holds a figurine of baby Jesus during the Christmas Eve mass at St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican
Pope Francis holds a figurine of baby Jesus during the Christmas Eve mass at St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican on December 24th, 2021. Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

Some 2,000 members of the public and 200 religious figures attended, wearing face masks and respecting social distancing as part of measures against the coronavirus, the Vatican’s press office said.

Those who had not managed to grab a ticket watched on huge screens outside St Peter’s Basilica.

The 85-year-old Argentinian pontiff recalled the shepherds in the tale of the nativity, who lived modestly and were witness to the birth of Jesus.

“That is where Jesus is born: close to them, close to the forgotten ones of the peripheries. He comes where human dignity is put to the test.”

He called for people to seek out “littleness” — in “our daily lives, the things we do each day at home, in our families, at school and in the workplace”.

“Jesus asks us to rediscover and value the little things in life,” he said.

Francis, formerly the Archbishop of Buenos Aires Jorge Mario Bergoglio, called for more solidarity with those living in poverty.

“On this night of love, may we have only one fear: that of offending God’s love, hurting him by despising the poor with our indifference,” he said.

It was the second such Christmas Eve mass during the coronavirus pandemic.

Last year, barely some 200 people — mostly Vatican employees — attended.

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ROME

‘I love Italy’: Jason Momoa apologises over Sistine Chapel photos

US actor Jason Momoa apologised after fans reacted angrily to him taking snaps in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel despite a strict photography ban.

'I love Italy': Jason Momoa apologises over Sistine Chapel photos

Anyone who has visited the Sistine Chapel will recall the firm and repeated warnings from security staff: “no photos, please”.

But there has been an outcry in Italy and beyond after ‘Aquaman’ star Jason Momoa apparently paid to be allowed to disregard this rule on a recent visit to the Vatican City with friends.

Momoa. 42, is currently in Rome shooting ‘Fast X’, the 10th installment in the ‘Fast & Furious’ film saga.

He posted snaps and videos of himself on May 9th posing below the famous frescoes painted by Michelangelo with friends and what appear to be Vatican Museums staff.

But disgruntled fans quickly pointed out in the comments that visitors are typically forbidden from taking photos or videos in the chapel.
 
“We can’t take pics but celebrities can, nothing against Jason (I adore him) but it’s not fair,” one person wrote.

“All I remember about that place was ‘no photos please’,” another person wrote.

Others took issue with a video showing him reaching over a rope barrier to touch a sculpture. 

“I cringed when he rubbed his hands on the art … not cool, dude,” one person commented.

On Saturday, Momoa posted another video in which he apologised for causing offence.
 
“If you ever thought I disrespected your culture, that wasn’t my intention,” he said in the video, in which he appears shirtless in the gym apparently following a workout.
 
He said he had given the chapel “a wonderful donation to bring my friends and crew because we only had a couple days off to go experience these places.”

“I would never want to do anything to disrespect someone’s culture,” he added.

“So if I did, I apologise and it wasn’t my intention. And I definitely paid to have that private moment and gave a nice donation to the church.”

The Sistine Chapel and the rest of the Vatican Museums complex is currently open to visitors as normal, following closures and limitations on visitor numbers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Regular online tickets cost €17 (around $21) via the official Vatican website. It is also possible to book a two-hour private tour of the Vatican Museums for €78 per person – though the booking website doesn’t mention any exceptions to the photography ban in the Sistine Chapel.

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