If you attend midnight Mass on Christmas, you may hear the deacon, cantor or reader make a formal announcement that Jesus has been born.

This Proclamation of the Birth of Christ begins with creation and relates the birth of Jesus to major events and people in both sacred and secular history.

The events mentioned in the proclamation – the great flood, Moses leading the people of Israel out of Egypt, the anointing of King David, the 94th Olympiad, the reign of Octavian Augustus – help to place the birth of Jesus in the context of salvation history.

The announcement of the nativity of the Lord comes from the Roman Martyrology, an official book that provides an extensive list of saints recognized by the church. The book contains several proclamations that are to be read on certain days of the liturgical season, including the one for Christmas.

The proclamation itself “draws upon Sacred Scripture to declare in a formal way the birth of Christ,” according to the Third Edition of the Roman Missal. The text may be chanted or recited, most appropriately on Dec. 24, during the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours or before the beginning of Christmas Mass during the Night, the missal states.

Reading of the proclamation at Mass had been discontinued for many years until in the 1980s Blessed Pope John Paul II restored it to the Christmas Mass at Night. Now many Catholic churches are making the presentation of the proclamation part of their Christmas celebration.

The Proclamation Of The Birth Of Christ

The twenty-fifth day of December,
when ages beyond number had run their course from the creation of the world, when God in the beginning created heaven and earth, and formed man in his own likeness;

When century upon century had passed since the Almighty set his bow in the clouds after the Great Flood, as a sign

of covenant and peace; in the twenty-first century since Abraham, our father in faith, came out of Ur of the Chaldees; in the thirteenth century since the People of Israel were led by Moses in the Exodus from Egypt;

Around the thousandth year since David was anointed king; in the sixty-fifth week of the prophecy of Daniel; in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad in the year seven hundred and fifty-two since the foundation of the City of Rome;

In the forty-second year of the reign of Caesar Octavian Augustus, the whole world being at peace, Jesus Christ, eternal God and Son of the eternal father, desiring to consecrate the world by his most loving presence, was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and when nine months had passed since his conception, was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem of Judah, and was made man.

The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.