Pope holds Christmas Eve Mass amid Italy surge

Lexington's Father Jim Sichko assists with the service

A maskless Francis processed down the central aisle (click here for video) of the basilica Friday as the Sistine Chapel choir sang “Noel,” kicking off the Vatican’s Christmas holiday.Sichko Pope1

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Father Jim Sichko from Lexington at the Basilica

Lexington’s Father Jim Sichko (click here for video) attended the service to assist with communion.

For the second day in a row, Italy on Friday set a new pandemic daily record with 50,599 new cases. Another 141 people died, bringing the official death toll to 136,386.

The Vatican secretary of state on Thursday imposed a new vaccine mandate on all Vatican staff, except those who have recovered from the coronavirus. The faithful attending Mass are required to wear masks.

Francis, who is missing part of one lung and had intestinal surgery in July, has largely eschewed masks. He is believed to have received the third booster shot.