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The Vatican

Must-know details about Francis’ U.S. trip

  • Matthew Bunson, OSV Newsweekly
  • |
  • September 04 2015
Blog
CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

A snapshot of events and other items of interest during the Holy Father's three-city tour

Washington, D.C.

First canonization on U.S. soil

  • Pope Francis will make history Sept. 23 when he canonizes Blessed Junipero Serra during Mass — in Spanish — on the lawn of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. This will be the first canonization to take place on American soil, and special admittance is being given to Hispanics and Catholics from California, where Serra lived and worked. Some are objecting to Serra’s sainthood, so expect protests from some Native American advocacy groups.

First address of a pope to Congress

  • For the first time in history, Pope Francis will address a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 24.
  • As there are extremely limited seats available, Pope Francis’ address to Congress will be broadcast live to the public on the West Front of the Capitol.
  • It is also reported that Pope Francis will make a brief appearance on the West Front after his speech.
  • At the same time, several environmental groups are planning a major climate rally on the National Mall. It is expected to draw thousands with the aim of promoting awareness of the pope’s encyclical, Laudato Si’ (“Praise Be to You”).

With the people

  • In a more intimate setting, Pope Francis will visit St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in D.C. as well as Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington. In what is sure to be a moving moment, the Holy Father will give a blessing to clients having lunch through the St. Maria’s Meals program of Catholic Charities.

Philadelphia

Channeling Abe

  • After a morning Mass at the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia on Sept. 26, Pope Francis will head to Independence Mall for an encounter with the Hispanic community and other immigrants. He will speak from the podium used by Abraham Lincoln to deliver the Gettysburg Address, and his themes are likely to be religious liberty and immigration.

Concert on the parkway

  • In the evening, the pope will visit the Festival of Families on Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Pope Francis will hear testimonies from participants in the World Meeting of Families and then listen to a performance by Andrea Bocelli.

Meeting with bishops

  • The next morning, on Sept. 27, he will meet with bishops taking part in the World Meeting of Families at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia.

Visiting the imprisoned

  • Pope Francis will then visit detainees at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia and will use a special chair the prisoners made in his honor.

Crowds in Philly

  • At 4 p.m., he will celebrate Mass for the conclusion of the World Meeting of Families on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. It will be open to the public, and as many as 1 million people are expected to attend.

A view from anywhere

  • The pope’s arrival in Philadelphia, the Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul, the speech at Independence Mall and the Festival of Families will all be broadcast on Jumbotron screens throughout the city.

New York City

A first glimpse

  • On the afternoon of Sept. 24, Francis flies straight from Washington to New York’s JFK Airport and from there will be driven into Manhattan for vespers with clergy and men and women religious at the newly restored St Patrick’s Cathedral. This will be the first chance for New Yorkers to see the pope, and he may alter the drive to meet with the expected thousands lining the streets to catch a glimpse or shake his hand.

Pope in the park?

  • The next day, Sept. 25, he addresses the United Nations General Assembly and then will take part in an interreligious encounter at the Ground Zero memorial in lower Manhattan.
  • According to reports, the pope may travel at some point in the modified popemobile, a Jeep Wrangler, through Central Park, an event that will likely cause a sensation in Manhattan.

At inner-city schools

  • Pope Francis will be the talk of Harlem when he arrives at Our Lady, Queen of Angels School to meet with 24 children from six different inner-city Harlem schools. This will be another moment for Francis to shine in his role as the pope of the people.

Impromtu stop?

  • Pope Francis often arranges impromptu stops on his trips. If there is an unexpected meeting in Manhattan, it will probably happen during the afternoon, between the events at Ground Zero and in Harlem.

Liturgy for New York

  • In the evening, Francis will celebrate Mass at Madison Square Garden. The event is ticketed and largely limited to the parishes of the New York archdiocese and regional diocese, so securing one of the 19,000 tickets will be very difficult.

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