VATICAN CITY, FEB. 5, 2009 (Zenit.org</a>).- Benedict XVI has a busy few weeks ahead of him, with the start of Lent and Easter celebrations, spiritual exercises, a trip to Africa, the fourth anniversary of his predecessor’s death, and his own 82nd birthday.
The Vatican released the Pope’s schedule through Easter today. His birthday is four days later, on April 16.
February will be marked primarily by two celebrations: a consistory for certain causes of canonization on Saturday, Feb. 21, and the penitential procession and imposition of ashes on Feb. 25, Ash Wednesday.
Then, on the First Sunday of Lent, March 1, the Holy Father and the Roman Curia will begin their annual spiritual exercises, which last till March 7.
Just 10 days later, he leaves for his apostolic trip to Cameroon and Angola.
March will close with a pastoral visit in Rome to the parish of the Holy Face of Jesus on Sunday, March 29.
April 2 is the fourth anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II, and Benedict XVI will mark it with a Mass for youth from the Diocese of Rome.
Then, April 5 is Palm Sunday and the Holy Father will lead the blessing of palms and celebrate Mass.
Holy Week will be characterized by the traditional celebrations, with the Pope celebrating Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday morning and the Mass of the Last Supper that evening. On Good Friday he will celebrate the Lord’s Passion at 5 p.m. and participate in the Way of the Cross at the Colosseum that night.
He will celebrate the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday, April 11, at 9 p.m.
On Easter Sunday, he will celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s Square in the morning, and at midday, give his blessing “urbi et orbi” [to the city and the world].