Cardinal Timothy Dolan marked the beginning of Christmas at Saint Patrick's Cathedral.
Cardinal Dolan presided over a special midnight mass at the historic Cathedral on Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan.
He was joined by worshippers and distinguished guests, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano.
In his homily, Dolan compared the current renovations at Saint Patrick's to the spirit of Christmas itself.
"What we're attempting to achieve here in this monumental house of prayer called Saint Patrick's -- namely, repair the cracks, restore the luster, and renew the original, noble intent -- is actually what God our Father wanted to achieve that very first Christmas."
For those interested mass is being held at Saint Patrick's today on a Sunday schedule.
Before midnight mass, Dolan held a midday mass at the Ronald McDonald House on the Upper East Side.
He spent time with sick children who are living away from home for the holiday, hoping to send a personal message of hope.
"When my little niece Shannon was 8 years old she got bone cancer and so that effects the whole family, myself included. By the way she's 22 now and doing well," Dolan said. "But she went through a lot and I don't think she could have made it, and I'm not just talking about her excellent doctors and nurses, but the compassion of a whole community. And that's what Ronald McDonald House is about -- it's so holistic."
There are more than 300 Ronald McDonald Houses around the world.