- Associated Press - Thursday, December 25, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Seven seminarians of the Diocese of Springfield served at the Vatican’s Christmas Eve Mass celebrated by Pope Francis.

The service was held early Thursday at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

The Springfield Diocese says the pope’s liturgical celebrations office contacted seminaries earlier this week, requesting that their students currently visiting Rome attend the Mass. Diocese officials said they were told Wednesday the students would be participating in the Mass.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki says the experience is a memorable Christmas present for the priests in training.

The Catholic Diocese of Springfield serves 129 parishes in 28 counties in Central Illinois.

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