Pier Paolo Cito, Associated Press
Pope Benedict XVI, framed by a Christmas tree, greets the faithful during the Angelus prayer he celebrated from his studio window overlooking St. Peter's square at the Vatican Tuesday.

ROME (AP) — Pope Benedict is praying at the foot of the Spanish Steps, keeping a tradition that rings in the Roman holiday season.

Shoppers who jammed the narrow streets, including Via Condotti with its posh shops, paused from buying Christmas presents to catch a glimpse of Benedict as he was driven in a glass-sided popemobile to the square below the Spanish Steps.

An aide held a white umbrella over the 82-year-old pontiff as a drizzle wet the cobblestones Tuesday afternoon. Benedict wore an ermine-trimmed cape to guard against the chill.

Dec. 8 is the Catholic feast of the Immaculate Conception, which honors the Virgin Mary.

His next major public holiday appointment is Christmas Eve Mass, which he will celebrate at 10 p.m. instead of midnight.