Pope to lead midnight Christmas Mass at 10 p.m.

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Associated Press

Posted on December 7, 2009 at 1:01 PM

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican says Pope Benedict XVI will break with tradition this year and celebrate Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at 10 p.m. instead of midnight.

Papal spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi told The Associated Press on Monday the decision to change the schedule was made two months ago to "ease the (pope's) fatigue at a time when there are many ceremonies and commitments" during Christmas holidays.

Lombardi said there was no reason to worry about the health of the 82-year-old Benedict. He said Vatican aides decided to "stretch out his strength" and the pontiff agreed.

On noon on Christmas Day Benedict will read a holiday message from the central balcony of the basilica as crowds gather in the square.

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