Traditional Proclamation of the Birth of Christ

From the Traditional Roman Martyrology

Nativity scene
A nativity scene. Godong/UIG / Getty Images

The Proclamation of the Birth of Christ comes from the Roman Martyrology, the official listing of the saints celebrated by the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church. For centuries, it was read on Christmas Eve, before the celebration of Midnight Mass. When the Mass was revised in 1969, however, and the Novus Ordo was introduced, the Proclamation of the Birth of Christ was dropped.

A decade later, the Proclamation found a worthy champion: Saint John Paul II, as pope, decided once again to include the Proclamation of the Birth of Christ in the papal celebration of Midnight Mass. Since the papal Midnight Mass at St. Peter's Basilica is broadcast worldwide, interest in the Proclamation revived, and many parishes began to include it in their celebrations as well.

What Is the Proclamation of the Birth of Christ?

The Proclamation of the Birth of Christ situates the Nativity of Christ within the context of human history generally and salvation history specifically, making reference not only to biblical events (the Creation, the Flood, the birth of Abraham, the Exodus) but also to the Greek and Roman worlds (the original Olympics, the founding of Rome). The coming of Christ at Christmas, then, is seen as the summit of both sacred and secular history.

The Text of the Proclamation of the Birth of Christ

The text below is the traditional translation of the Proclamation used until the revision of the Mass in 1969. Even though the reading of the Proclamation at Midnight Mass is optional today, a modern translation has been approved for use in the United States. You can find that text at The Proclamation of the Birth of Christ, along with the reasons for the change to the translation.

Traditional Proclamation of the Birth of Christ

The twenty-fifth day of December.
In the five thousand one hundred and ninety-ninth year of the creation of the world
from the time when God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth;
the two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seventh year after the flood;
the two thousand and fifteenth year from the birth of Abraham;
the one thousand five hundred and tenth year from Moses
and the going forth of the people of Israel from Egypt;
the one thousand and thirty-second year from David's being anointed king;
in the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel;
in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;
the seven hundred and fifty-second year from the foundation of the city of Rome;
the forty second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus;
the whole world being at peace,
in the sixth age of the world,
Jesus Christ the eternal God and Son of the eternal Father,
desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming,
being conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and nine months having passed since his conception,
was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary,
being made flesh.
The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.