Pope Telephorus is accredited with establishing the custom of celebrating the Midnight Mass (for Christmas) beginning in 125 A.D.
It is just a few more years (129 A.D.) that he began instituting songs for this Mass about angels.
It is probable that all this is true, but St. Telephorus was not the first formerly to offer Midnight Mass!
Acts 20:7 states, "On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the morrow; and he prolonged his speech until midnight. There were many lights in the upper chamber where we were gathered. And a young man named Eutychus was sitting in the window. He sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer; and being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down and bent over him, and embracing him said, 'Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him. And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed. And they took the lad away alive, and were not a little comforted".
Here is a written record of someone falling asleep during one of St. Paul's sermons.
God was able to show his favor with St. Paul through this as the boy fell out of a third story window.
In this case, St. Paul was going to be leaving so this was a late service.
Midnight Mass is late, but it is ushering in the day of Christmas. This tradition would branch throughout the Christian world as the Church would survive terrible persecutions.
By the 4th century it was becoming universal as December 25th became solidified. Some placed emphasis on January 6 because this is the feast of the Epiphany or "manifestation" and so the Eastern Lung of the Church has this strong tradition.
In Bethlehem, the early Christians would celebrate Midnight Mass carrying torches to the site believed to be where Christ was born.
With Constantine's "Edict of Milan", the people in Jerusalem built the Church of the Nativity over the traditional site of Christ's birth in about 326 A.D. Today, there are a number of other Christmas Masses offered earlier on Saturday, mostly for children, and Mass on Christmas day are celebrated all over the world.
My Mother would take me to Midnight Mass when I was young and so this was instilled in me very early as a family tradition.
I took my family to Midnight Mass all their growing up years as well. What a great blessing it was celebrating Midnight Mass in Saudi Arabia.
I look back at that time remembering the candles, the Humvee's, the desert uniforms, the outdoors under the bright stars touching the hearts with Christmas.
Over the years many traditions and customs developed in the many Countries around the world that reflect the ushering in the Christmas story.
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