By Mark Abrams

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia’s Nativity scene took center stage Wednesday outside the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul on the Ben Franklin Parkway.

Students from the nearby Saint Francis Xavier Parish Elementary School set the mood with Christmas carols as the city’s Christmas creche was blessed during ceremonies led by Father Dennis Gill, cathedral rector.

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“It is a sacramental. It is a real sign of the birth of Christ,” Gill said. “And it invites our faith and our devotion.”

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Students from St. Francis Xavier School sing while Fr. Dennis Gill, blesses Philadelphia’s Nativity Scene outside the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.
(credit: Mark Abrams)

This marks the 21st year the creche has been erected the Knights of Columbus and the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

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“Let us together pray that the presence of this Nativity scene here at the corner of 18th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway will invite all those who pass by to think of our Lord Jesus Christ and his birth among us and his promise of peace,” Gill said.