NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Christmas celebrations are underway around the world.

In Bethlehem, thousands from many religions attended midnight Mass inside the Church of the Nativity — the site where Christians believe Jesus was born.

And at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Pope Francis celebrated Mass before tens of thousands of the faithful.

In his homily, the pontiff spoke of light shining through darkness and how the world needs tenderness today.

Meanwhile at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Midtown, worshippers gathered for Christmas Eve Mass.

As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, the cathedral is already crowded and will stay that way up to and through the tradition of midnight Mass.

“It’s calming, it’s just very good for the spirit,” said Mercedes Mercado, of Washington Heights.

The faithful say it is the place to let the rush and hustle of Fifth Avenue fade away.

“Brings the real sense of Christmas to you,” said Army veteran Jacob Ivancev, of Washington Heights.

In stores, he emptied his wallet. But at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, he says he fills his soul.

“I always light a candle for some people who passed away and I think about some of my brothers that were killed in Iraq,” Ivancev said.

“It’s a highlight. We’ve come in staying overnight,” said Seena Bryan, of Plainview.

The architectural masterpiece that is St. Patrick’s Cathedral was built starting in the year 1858, Carlin reported.

Midnight Mass is always so popular, tickets must be reserved ahead of time and there are none left for this holiday. Masses on Christmas Day follow the Sunday schedule.

“It’s a very holy place. It makes me feel very good to be here,” said Bryan.

Meanwhile at St. Paul’s Chapel in Lower Manhattan, the kids put on a Christmas show, 1010 WINS’ Darius Radzius reported.

Children told the story of the nativity — a show that packed the chapel with parishioners and tourists.

It was a pretty big stage for 12-year-old Jack Miles.

“Right now I’m little nervous because I know other news crews showed up,” he said.

Parents said it was a great way to tell the story of Jesus and add a little more joy to the holiday season.

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