The traditional Christmas festivities in Rome, the Holy City, this year expand to include the opening ceremonies on Holy Year 1975 -- the jubilee celebrations marked by the Roman Catholic Church every quarter of a century.
GV PAN Colosseum with section under restoration (2 shots)
SV PAN FROM Plaque TO tourists
GV Constantine Arch undergoing restoration
SV PAN FROM Barrier TO Arch
CU Frieze on arch (2 shots)
SV Father Christmases around Xmas trees in Via Frattina (2 shots)
GV Main road leading to St. Peter's now restricted to pedestrians, and crowd outside St. Peter's
GV PAN FROM St. Peter's TO telephone kiosks, post boxes and barriers (2 shots)
GV Pope blessing crowd ZOOM IN (3 shots)
SV ZOOM OUT FROM Statues on St. Peter's under restoration TO crowd in square
Initials BB/1807 TH/AW/BB/1753
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Background: The traditional Christmas festivities in Rome, the Holy City, this year expand to include the opening ceremonies on Holy Year 1975 -- the jubilee celebrations marked by the Roman Catholic Church every quarter of a century.
Celebrations begin on Christmas Eve when Pope Paul will tap upon the doors leading to St. Peter's Basilica -- doors which are normally bricked up, but are specially opened to signal the start of Holy Year.
An estimated eight million pilgrims will be coming to the city during the year. There's a tradition dating back to the first Holy Year in 1300 that pilgrims receive indulgences for visiting Rome's holy places.
Back in the fourteenth century, according to contemporary accounts, the pilgrims were overcharged for food and accommodation during their visit. And their twentieth century counterparts could face a similar problem. The flood of visitors will put a huge additional burden on Rome's accommodation facilities, which are already under severe strain.
Preparations for the great influx of visitors are underway. Various religious foundations are opening their doors to offer accommodation to the pilgrims; St. Peter's and top tourist attractions including the Colosseum and nearby Constantine Arch are undergoing restoration work; and a special post office and telephone booths have been installed in St. Peter's to enable pilgrims to spread the Holy Year message of renewal and reconciliation throughout the world.
Yesterday (15 December), the Pope spoke to pilgrims in St. Peter's Square, declaring that the spirit of Christmas -- goodness, piety, humility and happiness -- is even more important this year at the beginning of Holy Year.