- Title: WEST BANK: Christians in Bethlehem hold first mass of Advent
- Date: 30th November 2009
- Summary: VARIOUS OF PROCESSION IN CHURCH
- Embargoed: 15th December 2009 12:00
- Topics: Religion
- Reuters ID: LVA436M47GWSUF4AIPVJ20YU9NS9
- Story Text: The Pope's Middle East envoy, Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa leads Sunday mass at Bethlehem's Church of Nativity marking the beginning of the Christian Advent season.
Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Catholic Custodian of the Holy Land, led the first Sunday (November 29) mass of the Christian season of Advent, marking the opening of preparations for Christmas in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, revered as Jesus' birthplace.
Hundreds of Christian worshippers gathered in Jesus' birth town to attend the festive mass, lighting candles and chanting hymns during the religious session.
The "Customs" or Custodian of the Holy Land is the Pope's envoy to the Middle East.
The word "Advent" means "coming" or "arrival". It marks the beginning of the season of celebration of the birth of Jesus.
Thousands of Christian pilgrims are expected to travel to Bethlehem to celebrate Christmas.
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