Pope Francis has kicked off his pastoral visit to Pompeii and Naples.
This morning, the Holy Father left the Vatican by helicopter at 7 a.m., and arrived at the meeting area of the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary about an hour later in his jeep. He was welcomed by Archbishop of Pompeii, Tommaso Caputo.
After greeting the faithful at the Shrine, the Holy Father thanked them for a very warm welcome. The Pope, who has a strong devotion to the Blessed Mother, spent several moments in prayer before the miraculous image of the Virgin Mary.
Pope Francis also prayed for those gathered, the world, and reminded all present to pray for him. “Don’t forget!” he stressed.
Leading the Italian faithful in a Hail Mary, he stressed, “We need the Madonna,” and noted, “She protects us in many ways, and from many things.”
Following the moment of prayer at the shrine, and bidding farewell to the faithful gathered, the Pope flew by helicopter to the Scampia sports field in Naples.
In Naples, he will meet with representatives of various different groups in Piazza Giovanni Paolo II, and at 11 a.m., he will celebrate Holy Mass in Piazza del Plebiscito.
In the afternoon at 1 p.m., Pope Francis will visit the “Giuseppe Salvia” Detention Center at Poggioreale, where he will have lunch with a group of detainees.
Two hours later, Francis will venerate the relics of San Gennaro and, in the Cathedral of Naples, will meet the clergy, religious men and women and permanent deacons of the archdiocese.
An hour later, at the Gesù Nuovo Basilica, the Jesuit Pope will meet with a group of sick and disabled people and, at 5 p.m. in the maritime quarter of Caracciolo, he will meet with the youth of Naples.
The Pope will depart from the Naples Maritime Centre by helicopter at 6.15 p.m., and is due to arrive in the Vatican at 7 p.m.