ON this, his first Christmas as Supreme Pontiff, Pope John XXIII added to the traditional programme of the Bishop of Rome at this time— already extremely heavy—several unexpected, surprising, but none-theless most informal and heart-warming visits outside Vatican City.
Apart from the Papal allocution in response to the Christmas wishes of the College of Cardinals, the normal Papal business, the audiences, there were the three Masses of Christmas and the apostolic blessing from the Balcony of St. Peter's.
There were extra audiences this year. such as that for the 20 missionaries from French Africa who were going home after between 25 and 50 years on the missions.
OR Pope John, aged 77, and I. ceaselessly at work since his election, surely this was enough.
But that was not his idea of enough. Once again, breaking with precedents as though to bring to an end the tradition of the "Prisoner of the Vatican" and to give an example to the whole world of the place of corporal works of mercy in the true Christian life, Pope John XXIII carried on with visits to two hospitals and to a prison. The Holy Father's first Christmas Mass at Midnight meis for members of the D;plomatic Corps, was celebrated in the Pauline Chapel. and was relayed by Italian radio and television. His second Mass, at dawn, was said in his private chapel.
THE third Papal Christmas Mass gave an example to the Catholic world of the importance of the recent Instruction on the Community Mass. The Pope, after entering St. Peter's on his sedia gestatoria to the sound of the silver trumpets,