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Updated: Tue, 24 Dec 2013 15:05:57 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Pope Francis holds his 1st Christmas Eve mass



In this picture provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, left, welcomes Pope Francis as they exchanged Christmas greetings, at the Vatican, Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. L'Osservatore Romano/The Associated Press

In this picture provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, left, welcomes Pope Francis as they exchanged Christmas greetings, at the Vatican, Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. L'Osservatore Romano/The Associated Press

Pope Francis is celebrating his first Christmas mass as pontiff today, with thousands of Christian pilgrims expected to attend at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. 

You can watch the live broadcast of the two-hour mass here from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET. This earlier time for "midnight mass" — it begins at 9:30 p.m. local time in Europe — was also used by Francis's predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, in his later years. 

         Watching on mobile? Click here. 

On Monday, Pope Francis and Benedict shared a rare meeting in order to give a Christmas greeting and pray together.

Photos released by the official Vatican newspaper show the two men dressed in identical white robes save for Francis's cape, chatting in a sitting room inside Benedict's retirement home. They also prayed together in the adjoining chapel. Benedict was looking well, using a cane for support while they stood in prayer.

It is the first time the interior of Benedict's home has been shown publicly.

On Christmas Day, at 6 a.m. ET., the pope will give his "Urbi et Orbi" ("to the city and the world") address and traditional blessing.

Past popes have traditionally used the remarks to comment on major world events. But Francis is expected to also add some of the messages that have been especially important to his ministry, on such themes as poverty and youth unemployment. 

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