VATICAN CITY, FEB. 15, 2011 (Zenit.org).- This May, Benedict XVI will enjoy the sites and sounds of Venice as many visitors before him — on a gondola ride through the canals of the ancient city.
The Pontiff will do so on May 8, as part of his pastoral visit to the northern Italian cities of Aquileia, Venice and Mestre, whose program was published today by the Holy See.
According to the plan, the Holy Father will be traveling between Aquileia, Mestre and Venice, from 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 7, to 8 p.m. on Sunday, May 8. During the trip, he will deliver four addresses and a homily.
The papal plane will leave the Roman airport of Ciampino and arrive in Ronchi dei Legionari (Gorizia), from where he will go to the small city of Aquileia.
After greeting the local citizens in Piazza Capitolo, he will address a preparatory assembly for the Congress of Aquileia, which is due to be held at Pentecost 2012. This Congress brings together the representatives of the dioceses of Italy, Germany, Austria, Croatia and Slovenia, which some 1,000 years ago were suffragans of ancient Aquileia.
He will depart Aquileia by helicopter and travel to Venice, where he will arrive at 7:30 p.m. Benedict XVI will greet the citizens in front of St. Mark’s Basilica and venerate the Evangelist’s relics.
The following day, Sunday, May 8, the Holy Father will celebrate Mass in the park of San Giuliano at Mestre, followed by the praying of the Regina Coeli.
Then he will return in a motorboat to Venice, where he will dine with bishops of the Patriarchate, and later will address the assembly at St. Mark’s Basilica for the closure of the diocesan pastoral visit.
The Pope will then climb into a gondola which will take him from St. Mark’s Square to the Basilica della Salute, where he will give an address to the representatives from the worlds of culture and the economy.
Afterward, he will bless the works of restoration of the Chapel of the Blessed Trinity, and inaugurate the premises of the Studium Generale Marcianum Library, before returning in a motorboat to Venice’s Marco Polo Airport for his return to Rome.
He is scheduled to arrive in Rome at 8.30 p.m.