Marseille from above Marseille from above 

Pope Francis' Marseille visit to promote peace and welcome

The Holy See Press Office presents Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to the southern French city of Marseille, a city “enriched” by a vast array of cultures.

By Joseph Tulloch

Matteo Bruni, Director of the Holy See Press Office, on Tuesday presented Pope Francis’ upcoming trip to Marseille to journalists at a press conference.

The Pope will be in the southern French city from Friday to Saturday of this week, and will attend the concluding session of the Mediterranean Meetings, a Church-led initiative aiming to build community amongst the region’s various peoples, religions, and cultures.

Thirty hours in Marseille

According to the official schedule, Pope Francis will depart from Rome’s Fiumicino airport at 14:35 on Friday afternoon, arriving at 16:15 in Marseille.

After an official welcome from the France’s Prime Minister, he will head to Marseille’s Basilica of Notre Dame de-la-Garde, where he will pray first with the clergy of the local diocese, and then with a group of professionals from various organisations – Stella Maris, Caritas Gap- Briançon, and the Association de secours en mer – dedicated to the pastoral care of seafarers, migrants, and refugees.

The following day, Saturday, 23 September, he will participate in the final session of the Mediterranean Meetings, which bring together bishops and young people from North Africa, the Middle East, and southern Europe. He will then meet privately with French President Emmanuel Macron

After lunch, Pope Francis will travel to Marseille’s Vélodrome stadium, where he will celebrate Mass for the general public. He will then depart, arriving in Rome at around 20:50.

Marseille as melting pot

Speaking to journalists at the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni noted that this would be the Holy Father’s 44th Apostolic Journey abroad.

Mr. Bruni stressed that the trip ought not to be understood as a visit to France, but rather as a visit to the city of Marseille.

The same, he noted, was true of the Pope’s visit to the city Strasbourg in 2014, where he visited the European Parliament – both visits, he said, have an “international” character.

Marseilles, added Mr. Bruni, is particularly notable in this regard, since it has been “enriched” over the course of its long history by a huge variety cultures.

Founded as a Greek colony around the year 600 BC, over the years it fell into the hands of Romans, Ligures, barbarians, Arabs, and Saracens, and in recent years gone on to become one of France’s most ethnically diverse cities.

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19 September 2023, 16:16