• From Christmas Eve to Epiphany, Francis's calendar packed

From Christmas Eve to Epiphany, Francis's calendar packed

Visits to kids, World Day of Peace, all part of pope's holiday

(ANSA) - Vatican City, December 17 - Like much of the Christian world, Pope Francis has a hectic Christmas holiday season planned, according to his schedule released Tuesday by the Vatican. Among his engagements, the pope will visit patients at Rome's Bambino Gesù children's hospital on Saturday. That will be followed by one of the highlights of the season, Christmas Eve Mass in the Papal Chapel of St. Peter's Basilica - the first time for Francis, who became pope in March. At noon on Christmas Day, Francis will deliver his Christmas message as well as the special "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and world) blessing given by the pope on such significant occasions as Easter and Christmas. On New Year's Eve is the celebration of the first Vespers and the traditional signing of the Te Deum for the feast of the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God. On the morning of January 1, Francis will celebrate Mass and speak on the theme of the Church's 47th annual World Day of Peace, "Fraternity: the foundation and path for peace". The cycle of the Christmas liturgies will conclude on January 6 with Mass celebrating the feast of the Epiphany, marking the baptism of Jesus, as well as a baptism of newborns in the Sistine Chapel.