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Pope Francis celebrated Christmas Eve with a late-night Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on Wednesday, after placing a phone call to Iraqi refugees forced to flee their homes by Muslim militants. Francis told refugees at the tent camp in Ankawa, a suburb of Irbil in northern Iraq, that they were like Jesus, forced to flee because there was no place for them. For Christians, Christmas marks the birth of Jesus in a Bethlehem barn manger, chosen because there was no room for his parents at an inn.

Pope Francis kisses the statue of baby Jesus as he arrives to lead the Christmas night mass in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on Dec. 24.MAX ROSSI / Reuters