Christmas events in Rome's international community

The capital's foreign community holds numerous events over the Christmas season

December is always a busy month for Rome's numerous foreign communities whose members hold annual parties and events before departing to their home countries. However, while the Christmas period is a time of festive cheer for many in Rome's expat community, it is also worth remembering foreign residents who are less fortunate.

The Joel Nafuma Refugee Center (JNRC) at the American Episcopal Church of Rome, St Paul’s within the Walls, is holding its Christmas Market Place on Saturday 6 Dec, from 10.00-16.00. The sale includes gifts and craftwork, as well as advent carolling and guided tours of the church and its famous mosaics. The JNRC is also appealing for donations of small practical Christmas gifts for the refugees in its care, to be brought to Via Napoli 58, by 12 Dec. For details see website.

For the fifth consecutive year the Swedish embassy brings S. Lucia to Rome, sharing one of Sweden's best-loved traditions with the capital on 10 Dec. This year's choir from Stockholm comprises 12 young students who will perform Swedish traditional Christmas songs, carols and hymns at Piazza di Pietra at 19.30. There are also Swedish Christmas treats such as glögg and ginger bread biscuits.

The Irish Club of Rome hosts its annual Christmas dinner on Friday 12 Dec at 19.30 at Ristorante L'Archeologia, Via Appia Antica 139. The festive meal begins with a prosecco aperitivo and is followed by mince pies, Christmas crackers, chocolate selection boxes and the singing of Christmas carols. The event is open to all but booking is essential as spaces are limited. For more information and to reserve, email irishclubofrome@gmail.com or see Facebook event page.

The Venerable English College holds a service of Advent music and readings at 19.00 on 13 Dec. The college is located on Via di Monserrato 45, near Piazza Farnese. See website for calendar of events.

The community of the Pontifical Irish College holds its annual Advent liturgy followed by Christmas carols at 17.00 on Sunday 14 Dec. Afterwards the occasion is made all the more festive with the provision of mulled wine and mince pies. Firmly established on Rome's expat Christmas calendar, this nostalgic event always draws a large crowd, so arriving early is a good idea. Via dei SS. Quattro 1 (S. Giovanni), see website.

The American International Club of Rome (AICR) holds its annual holiday party on Friday 19 Dec at Palazzo Gallo on Via Foro Traiano near Trajan's Column. The evening includes drinks, dinner, music and dancing, and guests must reserve by 15 Dec. The AICR describes itself as a "home base" for Americans and other foreigners in Rome, and each month it organises social and cultural events. For full details about the event and the club see website.

At this time of the year Rome has numerous Christmas cribs on show, the best-known of which is 100 Presepi in Piazza del Popolo. The 39th edition of this annual international nativity crib exhibition opened recently at Sala del Bramante and can be visited every day from 09.30-20.00, including Christmas Day, until 6 January. In addition to contemporary reproductions of traditional 18th-century Neapolitan and Sicilian cribs and 19th-century Roman ones, the exhibition hosts some 180 nativity scenes from around the world, constructed from both traditional and unconventional materials.

Founded in 1975 by journalist Manilo Menaglio, the original aim of 100 Presepi was to preserve the ancient Italian tradition of crib-making. The exhibition also acts as a competition and ends with an award ceremony for the winners in the following four categories: Christmas cribs, fantasy cribs, international exhibits, and foreign schools, institutions and associations. Each year there are crib-building workshops for children, held in collaboration with the Accademia delle Belle Arti di Roma. For details see website.

For the last 60 years Italian members of the global crib-building association Amici del Presepio build a traditional-style crib in the church of S. Maria in Via off Largo Chigi each year, as well as constructing large cribs in Piazza Navona and Piazza S. Pietro.

Near the Roman Forum is the Museo Tipologico Nazionale del Presepio, a private museum dedicated to crib memorabilia accumulated by crib expert Angelo Stefanucci (1905-1990). Located on Via Tor de' Conti, 31/A, under the church of SS. Quirico e Giulitta, the international collection comprises 3,000 figurines made from a wide selection of materials, as well as books, medals and stamps. Visits are free but cater for a maximum of 20 people, and must be arranged by appointment. For full details including visiting times see website.

A more unusual manger scene is the street cleaner’s crib, owned and cared for by AMA, Rome’s refuse company. Located on Via dei Cavalleggeri 5, near St Peter's, the floor of the manger contains over 1,400 different stones brought by pilgrims from all over the world. For more details including the varying visiting times see website.

The oldest crib in existence, Arnolfo di Cambio’s 1289 marble version, is in the Basilica di S. Maria Maggiore, and indeed there are cribs in every parish church across the city.

CHURCH SERVICES

Each year there are a number of English language religious services in churches in Rome over Christmas. For Pope Francis' programme see the Vatican calendar of religious celebrations.

All Saints' Anglican Church

Via del Babuino 153/b, tel. 0636001881.

21 Dec. Lessons and Carols, 18.00.

24 Dec. Crib Service for children 17.00, Midnight Mass 23.30.

25 Dec. Said Eucharist 08.30; Sung Eucharist 10.30.

Ponte S. Angelo Methodist Church

Piazza di Ponte S. Angelo 68, tel. 066868314.

24 Dec. Carol service, 18.00.

25 Dec. All Age Communion service, 10.30.

Pontifical Irish College (Roman Catholic)

Via dei Santi Quattro 1, tel. 06772631.

14 Dec. Advent and Carol Service, 17.00.

Rome Baptist Church

S. Lorenzo in Lucina 35, tel. 066876652-066876211.

24 Dec. Christmas Eve Service, 19.00.

25 Dec. Christmas Service, 10.30.

St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church

Via XX Settembre 7, tel. 064827627.

21 Dec. Fourth Sunday of Advent, 11.00.

24 Dec. Christmas Eve Service, 06.30.

St Patrick’s Church (Roman Catholic)

Via Boncompagni 31, tel. 064203121.

25 Dec. Mass in English, 10.00.

St Paul’s Within-the-Walls (Episcopal Church)

Via Nazionale, corner Via Napoli, tel. 064883339

24 Dec. Musical prelude, 22.30. First Eucharist of Christmas, 23.00.

25 Dec. Second Eucharist of Christmas, 10.30.

S. Isidoro Church (Roman Catholic)

Via degli Artisti 41, tel. 064885359.

24 Dec. Midnight Mass in English 21.00.

25 Dec. Mass in English 10.00.

S. Silvestro in Capite (Roman Catholic)

Piazza S. Silvestro 1, tel. 066977121.

24 Dec. Mass at 19.30.

25 Dec. Christmas Mass at 10.00 and 17.30.

S. Susanna Church (Roman Catholic)

Via XX Settembre 15, tel. 0642014554.

Due to the temporary closure of S. Susanna Church, this year's Christmas Masses and events take place at the nearby Basilica di S. Camillo de Lellis, Via Piemonte and Via Sallustiana.

24 Dec. Christmas Concert and Carolling, 19.05, followed by Vigil Mass at 19.30, with choir, at Basilica di S. Camillo de Lellis.

25 Dec. Christmas Mass with choir, Basilica di S. Camillo de Lellis, 10.00.

Venerable English College (Roman Catholic)

Via di Monserrato 45, tel. 066865808.

25 Dec. Christmas Day Mass, 10.00.

Wanted in Rome wishes all its readers a very happy Christmas season.

Andy Devane