Pope to make brief visit to Italian city of L'Aquila in August
By Deborah Castellano Lubov
Pope Francis will make a pastoral visit to L'Aquila, the capital city of the Italian region of Abruzzo, on 28 August.
The Holy See Press Office announced the news on Saturday.
Each 28-29 August in L'Aquila, Catholics renew the solemn rite of Forgiveness (“Perdonanza”), the perpetual plenary indulgence that Pope Celestine V granted to the faithful.
The Pope's visit will fall the day after the Pope's consistory for the creation of 21 new Cardinals in the Vatican, and during the 27-29 August encounter the Holy Father requested for the world's Cardinals to gather in the Vatican together to reflect on the recently-published Apostolic Constitution Praedicate Evangelium on reforming the Roman Curia.
Closeness to 2009 earthquake victims
During the pastoral visit, the Holy Father will be accompanied by Cardinal Giuseppe Petrocchi, the Archbishop of l'Aquila, as well as civil authorities.
He will visit the city's cathedral, which is still in ruins after the 2009 earthquake, for a private visit, and will address families of the victims, authorities and citizens present in the square. He will also celebrate Holy Mass and recite the Angelus.
Cardinal Petrocchi has welcomed the news of the Holy Father's visit.
In a statement, he noted, "I communicate, with immense joy, that the Holy Father has confirmed his visit to L'Aquila, next 28 August, on the occasion of the Celebration of Forgiveness."
After the institution of the Perdonanza, decreed by Celestine V, Cardinal Petrocchi said, Pope Francis is the first Pontiff to open the Holy Door after 728 years.
"The faithful and persistent wait of the people of L'Aquila, which has lasted for centuries, happily reaches its fulfilment," he said
The presence of the Successor of Peter, he said, "will give this event a global scope: the Holy Door of the Perdonanza will be opened not only to the pilgrims who will flock here in great numbers, but will be wide open to the whole world. We hope that all peoples, especially those lacerated by conflicts and internal divisions, will be able to pass through it and rediscover the paths of solidarity and peace."
"On behalf of our People - crucified by three devastating earthquakes and by the pandemic," the Cardinal continued, "I express my heartfelt thanks to Pope Francis: who once again bears witness to the compassion and tenderness of a Pope-Father towards us!"
Programme of Pope's visit
The Holy See Press Office published the following program of the Pope's visit.
8:00 a.m. take-off by helicopter from the Vatican heliport
8:25 a.m. landing at Gran Sasso Stadium in L'Aquila (private); transfer by car to Piazza Duomo
8:45 a.m. The Holy Father is welcomed in the Duomo Square by:
- Cardinal Giuseppe Petrocchi, Archbishop of L'Aquila
- Mr. Marco Marsilio, President of the Abruzzo Region
- Ms. Cinzia Teresa Torraco, Prefect of L'Aquila
- Mr. Pierluigi Biondi, Mayor of L'Aquila
Accompanied by Cardinal Petrocchi, the Holy Father enters the Cathedral for a private visit (the Cathedral still lies in ruins after the 2009 earthquake)
9:15 a.m. On the parvis of the Cathedral:
- The Holy Father addresses a greeting to the families of the Victims, the Authorities and the citizens present in the Piazza
At its conclusion, the Pope travels by car to the Basilica of St. Mary in Collemaggio
10:00 a.m. On the forecourt of the Basilica of Collemaggio: Holy Mass
- Rite of opening the Holy Door
12:30 p.m. At the end, the Holy Father bids farewell to the Authorities who welcomed him; travels by car to the Gran Sasso Stadium
12:45 p.m. Gran Sasso Stadium: take-off from L'Aquila
1:15 p.m. landing at the Vatican heliport