EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this article mentioned that Tagle would be the first Filipino cardinal to celebrate Simbang Gabi in Rome. ABS-CBN News regrets the error.
(UPDATE) Cardinal Luis Tagle will preside at his first Simbang Gabi on December 20, at Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.
Due to the current COVID-19 restrictions in Italy, only a limited number of faithful will be allowed to attend the mass, which will start at 3:30 p.m.
According to Sentro Pilipino Chaplaincy priest, Fr. Ricky Gente, the Pope earlier agreed to hold Simbang Gabi in St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City but due to safety protocols, only 168 people would be allowed and a maximum of 3 priests to concelebrate the mass.
This would have been the 5th year that Simbang Gabi is held at St. Peter's Basilica.
The parish council opted for the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore which allows more than 200 churchgoers.
For Sally Manila, member of the pastoral council of worship commission of the Chaplaincy, they took the brunt of the difficult task to distribute and divide the allotted 230 tickets.
“Marami talagang nag-a-ask ng ticket, bakit ganito, ganon,” Manila said.
“Pero andoon siyempre yung kita mo sa kanila yung talagang parang bigo, nadi-disappointed no? Dahil gusto rin naman nilang makita kahit hinde nga si Pope at si Cardinal naman yung magmimisa. Siyempre gusto rin nilang maka-attend sa mass," she said.
To accommodate those who want to attend Tagle's mass, they will open the doors of Basilica di Santa Pudenziana to 70 people where a live feed of the Cardinal's Simbang Gabi is projected on a white screen. The holy communion will also be provided in Santa Pudenziana.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Simbang Gabi will be held at Basilica di Santa Pudenziana on 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.
The Chaplaincy assured it will enforce the necessary adjustments following Italy's COVID-19 restrictions in religious activities & gatherings.
Lhyn Magsino, head of South Cluster of the Chaplaincy and in charge of organizing the 9-day Christmas novena, relayed the importance of having at least 2 masses.
"Upang maiwasan ang siksikan sa loob ng simbahan at upang makapamili ng oras ang magsisimba at dahil sa pinapatupad na social distancing, at makaiwas po sa hawaan ng Covid 19," Magsino said.
Last year, around 7,500 people from different parts of Italy and Europe attended Simbang Gabi in the Vatican.