VATICAN CITY, JULY 20, 2005 ( Hundreds of thousands of young people are expected to welcome Benedict XVI in Cologne on Aug. 18, where he will arrive by boat after crossing the Rhine.

The Holy See revealed this and other details of the official program of the Pope's first international apostolic trip, to attend World Youth Day in Germany, from Aug. 18-21. The Holy Father is currently vacationing in the Italian Alps.

On his trip abroad next month, the Bavarian-born Pope will visit Cologne's synagogue, and meet with Muslim communities in Germany, as well as with top civil and political leaders.

Benedict XVI will depart from Rome's Ciampino airport at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 18, and is due to arrive at the international airport of Cologne/Bonn at midday.

Following a welcome ceremony he will travel by car to the archbishopric of Cologne.

Cathedral visit

In the afternoon he will go to the Rodenkirchenbruecke wharf, from where a boat will take him along the river Rhine to the Rheinwiesen wharf where he will be welcomed by young people. The Holy Father will then travel back by boat to the city of Cologne where he will visit the cathedral.

On Friday, Aug. 19, the Pope will celebrate a private Mass in the archbishopric of Cologne before traveling by car to Villa Hammerschmidt in Bonn where, at 10:30 a.m., he is scheduled to pay a courtesy visit to German President Horst Köhler.

At midday he is due to visit the synagogue in Cologne and at 1 p.m. will return to the archbishopric for lunch with a group of young people.

At 5 p.m. he is due to meet seminarians at the Church of St. Pantaleon in Cologne and will then return to the archbishopric to participate in an ecumenical meeting.

On Saturday, Aug. 20, having again celebrated a private Mass in the archbishopric, the Holy Father will receive in audience various political and civil leaders. These include Gerhard Schröder, federal chancellor; Wolfgang Thierse, president of the Parliament; Angela Merkel, president of the Christian Democratic Union; and Jürgen Rüttgers, minister president of North Rhine Westphalia.


At 6 p.m. the Pope will meet representatives of Muslim communities. Later he will travel by car to the large open grounds of Marienfeld where he will join young people in a vigil due to last until 10:30 p.m.

At Marienfeld, at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 21, Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass, and then pray the Angelus.

After lunch in the archbishopric he will go on foot to the "Piussaal" (Pius Hall) of the seminary of Cologne where he will meet the bishops of the German episcopal conference.

Later, and after having greeted members of the organizing committee of World Youth Day 2005, he will travel by car to the international airport of Cologne/Bonn where the departure ceremony is due to be held at 6:45 p.m.

The Pope will then board his aircraft and return to Rome, arriving around 9:15 p.m.