Pope opens Christmas amid fresh security fears

December 24, 2010 20:39

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI was ushering in Christmas with an evening Mass amid heightened security concerns following the package bombings at two Rome embassies and Christmas Eve security breaches at the Vatican the past two years.

Benedict kicked off the holiday Friday by silently lighting a candle in his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square. Heavy rains kept crowds to a minimum.

Hours later, Benedict will celebrate Mass in St. Peter's Basilica. During that service in 2008 and 2009, a mentally disturbed woman lunged at the pope — and last year pulled him to the ground as he processed down the aisle.

Security was expected to be vigilant, due also to Thursday's package bombings at the Swiss and Chilean embassies, for which anarchists claimed responsibility.

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