Cardinal Timothy Dolan presided over the annual midnight mass at Saint Patrick's Cathedral, where he said the holiday is a time for peace and reflection.
The Christmas Day tradition always draws crowds to the famed church on Fifth Avenue.
Notable New Yorkers in attendance included Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
Dolan told those in attendance that the holiday is a time for peace and reflection.
"This midnight, we gather here at St. Patrick's Cathedral on 5th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan around a mother and a baby, Mary and Jesus. The mystery and meaning of Christmas, so heavenly, so supernatural, so miraculous and yet, so earthly,” said Dolan.
The Cardinal also delivered a special Christmas Eve sermon on Tuesday.
He said mass for inmates and Department of Corrections staff at the George Motchan Detention Center on Rikers Island.