The Vatican has confirmed that Pope Francis will visit the city of Italian city of Caserta on 26 and 28 July, splitting the visit into private and public events.
In a statement, the Holy See Press Office said that in the afternoon of Saturday 26, “upon invitation by the bishop of the diocese Giovanni D’Avise, he will meet with the Catholics of the city and celebrate the Mass of St. Ann, probably in the park of the Royal Palace of Caserta.”
It added: “The Holy Father will return to the Vatican that night, and on Sunday 27 he will pray the Angelus with the faithful in St. Peter’s Square, as usual. On Monday, 28 July, he will return to Caserta to pay a private visit to his friend, the Protestant pastor Giovanni Traettino, and his community.”
Briefing reporters this morning, the vice-director of the Holy See Press Office, Father Ciro Benedettini, said the Pope’s visit will be less private than originally thought. The Vatican had initially said the visit would be “extremely fast and simple, in the course of a single morning,” and would likely include a visit to the city’s church.
The private part of the visit will be when the Pope meets his friend Fr. Traettino, who had invited him to come there on the Monday.
Caserta has a population of some 80,000 people, mostly Catholic, and is an important agricultural, commercial and industrial comune and city.
Last month, when Francis met with a group of evangelical pastors in Rome, it was reported that a pastor friend he “had already known well from his time in Buenos Aires” extended the invitation, to which the Pope agreed.