Tampa, Florida -- Christmas Eve mass is a religious tradition steeped in old world history, and nowhere in Tampa Bay is it more so than at Sacred Heart in downtown Tampa.
Since 1905, this opulent church adorned with white marble pillars, alabaster flying buttresses, and German stained glass has been a place of worship for Tampa families.
"Generations have been coming to mass here and they've continue to come with their parents and grandparents, and it's a wonderful thing," said Father Zack Elliott.
"It's not about gifts, this, it's not about marketing. It's not about consumerism. This is about the birth of Jesus, and it's very important to my family and that's why I'm here," said parishioner Mariana.
For many, Sacred Heart is family.
"This is my first Christmas away from my family, so the catholic church is my family even when I can't [be] home," said Nicole Bratten, a nurse at Tampa General Hospital.
Candles, crucifixes, and a chorus of voices combine on this holy night -- significance recognized by even the youngest of souls.
"They tell us how Jesus was born and his story."
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