You are in Rome on December 8 and see processions and praying people in the centre and wondering what’s going on? You are at the Feast of Immacolata in Rome, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. This festival marks the beginning of the pre-Christmas season in Rome. In Rome, the conception of the Virgin Mary is celebrated large and extensive. Find out here what’s going on in Rome on December 8.
The Feast of Immacolata Concezione is national holiday in Italy and is on Sunday this year. Preparations for the feast begin in the Vatican the day before.
Inauguration of the nativity scene at St. Peter’s Square
Nativity scene and tree come from the Italian Alps in 2019. The nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square with life-size wooden figures comes from Scurelle in the province of Trento. Last year, the crib was built of sand from Jesolo. Every year, the nativity scene comes from a different place and follows the style and traditions of its place of origin.
The Christmas tree comes from the village of Rotzo on the Asiago plateau in the province of Vicenza.
The inauguration of the nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square will take place on Thursday, 5 December 2019 at 16:30. The ceremony lasts about one hour. Nativity scene and tree remain in St. Peter’s Square until January 12, 2020.
Honoring the Virgin Mary
December 8 is an extraordinary day in the center of Rome. At the center of Marian devotion is the Marian Column next to the Spanish Square, in front of the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See.
The Marian devotion begins on December 8, 7:30 am with the fire department and ends after the visit of the Pope, who comes to the Marian column at 4 pm.
The course of honour of the Virgin Mary
7:30: A fireman reaches the statue of the Virgin on a fire ladder and decorates it with a flower wreath
8:30: A procession from the church of Santa Caterina da Siena in via Urbana reaches the Marian Column
9:00: A procession of the parish of Sant’ Andrea delle Fratte reaches the column
The following are: the Grand Master of the Order of Malta, the group of “Legio Mariae” and, around 9:30 the Music Corps of the Vatican Gendarmerie, which also honors the Spanish Ambassador to the Holy See. From 10:30 onwards, workers from important Roman companies will follow. Thereafter, knights and ladies of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher, a procession of persons with disabilities, from 11:30 the female committee of the Italian Red Cross, nurses and students.
12:00 Honour by the Spanish Ambassador to the Holy See and Spanish dignitaries
This will be followed until 1 pm by representatives of various Italian regions.
3:30 pm: Procession of the pilgrimage organisation Unitalsi
3:45 pm: Homage to the statue of the Virgin by dignitaries of the city of Rome
4 pm:Homage of the Virgin Mary by the Pope
8-Dec-2019 Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica opening hours
The Vatican Museums are closed on 8-Dec-2019. St. Peter’s Basilica is normally open as every Sunday. During the Pope’s Angelus Prayer at 12 o’clock, St. Peter’s Basilica is closed. There will be long queues at St. Peter’s Basilica security and I therefore recommend that you have preferential access to the security check. A guided tour for St. Peter’s Basilica is also very useful.
December 8, 2019 Opening hours museums and shops in Rome
The national museums and museums of the municipality of Rome follow normal opening hours. Most shops in the center, supermarkets and shopping centers are open on 8-Dec-2019. Smaller shops may be closed.
What to do for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in Rome
At noon the Pope prays the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square. At 3:20pm the Pope visits the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore to honor the Byzantine icon of the Madonna and Child in the Cappella Paolina. The icon has been called Salus Populi Romani since the 19th century – salvation of the Roman people – and it is credited with numerous wonders. At 4pm the Pope arrives at the Marian Column near the Spanish Square.
In the Via della Conciliazione, between St. Peter’s Basilica and Castel Sant’Angelo, you can visit the exhibition “100 Nativities in the Vatican”. The entrance to the exhibition is in Via dell’Ospedale 1.
At the Auditorium Parco della Musica you will find a beautiful Christmas village and a skating rink. In Piazza Navona there is a nice carousel and a few fairgrounds.
In the center of Rome you will find many beautiful Christmas decorated shops for shopping.
The Roman cuisine is perfect for the cold season.
If you want something out of the city center, a visit to the catacombs on the Via Appia is very interesting.
It is also impressive to visit the excavations of the antique trading town in Ostia Antica, which you can reach by metro from Piramide station. After visiting the excavations, you could take the metro to Ostia and enjoy the sea breeze and a nice fish platter.