At 6:30 p.m. in St. Peter's Basilica, the Holy Father will preside over the Mass which will be celebrated by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and several other cardinals.

John Paul II will speak about his two predecessors in the homily, lead the Universal Prayer, and impart his apostolic blessing. This would be his first public appearance since an intestinal ailment prevented him from attending Wednesday's general audience.

The Pope has returned to his ordinary activities in the Vatican, after spending much of the summer in the papal residence of Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome.

He held personal audiences today with four Philippine bishops, who are on their five-yearly visit to Rome.