Padre Pio’s relics, the Missionaries of Mercy mandate, and other Jubilee events, including Saturday general — or rather ‘Jubilee’ — audiences, were at the forefront of a presentation held at the Holy See Press Office this morning.
Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, charged with overseeing this Jubilee Year of Mercy, discussed the Jubilee developments, one by one, noting the program is quite simple.
Padre Pio relics
On February 3, the Italian prelate noted, the urns containing the relics will arrive in Rome, where they will be placed in the Church of San Lorenzo Fuori le Mura. At 3 p.m., the church will be open to the faithful, beginning with a celebration of reception. The relics will remain in San Lorenzo until 8:30 p.m. the following day, during which time there will be a number of celebrations reserved for the vast extended Franciscan Family.
An all-night vigil, Archbishop Fisichella also said, is being organized in the Jubilee Church of San Salvatore in Lauro, and will begin at 10 p.m. on February 4. The prayer will continue until the following day, February 5, with various celebrations and will conclude with Holy Mass at 2 p.m. presided by Archbishop of Manfredonia-Vieste-San Giovanni Rotondo, Michele Castoro.
At 4 p.m., a procession with the two urns containing the relics will begin from San Salvatore in Lauro and then proceed the entire length of Via della Conciliazione in order to arrive at the sagrato of St. Peter’s Basilica. There on the sagrato, Cardinal Angelo Comastri, the Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, will receive the relics and after a moment of prayer, will then accompany the relics into the basilica where they will be placed in the central nave before the Altar of the Confession for people to venerate.
Until the morning of Feb. 11, after the Holy Mass of thanksgiving at 7:30 a.m. at the Altar of the Chair, the relics will remain in St. Peter’s for veneration.
“It is opportune to note that on Feb. 10, Ash Wednesday, the Basilica will remain closed in the morning for the General Audience and then, in the afternoon, Holy Mass will be celebrated in the Basilica to mark the beginning of Lent,” the archbishop pointed out, adding, “Thus, those who wish to venerate the relics are kindly asked to choose to do so on one of the previous days and to follow along the Jubilee reserved walkway in order to enter through the security check point as rapidly as possible.”
Mandate to Missionaries of Mercy
Archbishop Fisichella then went on to discuss the second event pertaining to the celebration that will take place on Ash Wednesday, when the Holy Father will give the mandate to the priests who have been designated Missionaries of Mercy.
“As attested to in the Bull of Indiction, Misericordiae vaults,” the Italian archbishop highlighted, “the Missionaries are to be a ‘sign of the Church’s maternal solicitude for the People of God, enabling them to enter the profound richness of this mystery so fundamental to the faith.'”
“There will be priests to whom I will grant the authority to pardon even those sins reserved to the Holy See, so that the breadth of their mandate as confessors will be even clearer.”
Thus, the prelate explained, the Missionaries of Mercy are a select number of priests who have received from the Pope the charge to be privileged witnesses in their respective Churches of the extraordinariness of this Jubilee event.
It is only the Pope, he stressed, who nominates these missionaries, not the bishops, and it is he who entrusts them with the mandate to announce the beauty of the mercy of God while being humble and wise confessors who possess a great capacity to forgive those who approach the confessional. The missionaries, who come from every continent, he highlighted, number over 1,000.
“I am delighted to announce that there are Missionaries coming from many distant countries and, among these, some of which have a uniquely significant importance such as: Burma, Lebanon, China, South Korea, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Burundi, Vietnam, Zimbabwe, Latvia, East Timor, Indonesia, Thailand, and Egypt. There will also be Eastern Rite priests.”
The Pontifical Council president stressed the great response they received for participation, and that accordingly, they had to place a limit on the large number of requests “in order to ensure that the specific symbolic value, one which expresses how truly special the initiative is, be maintained.”
All of the missionaries have received the permission of their respective diocesan bishops or religious superiors and will make themselves available to those requesting their services throughout the entirety of the Jubilee but, most especially, during Lent.
There will be 700 missionaries arriving in Rome. On Feb. 9, Pope Francis will meet with them to express his feelings regarding this initiative which will certainly be one of the most touching and significant of the Jubilee of Mercy.
The next day, only the Missionaries of Mercy will concelebrate with the Holy Father, during which time they will receive the “mandate,” as well as the faculty to absolve those sins reserved to the Holy See.
“An interesting story may help to capture the pastoral interest that this initiative has garnered around the world. Father Richard from Australia will visit 27 communities in his rural Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle where there is only one church and no priests in residence.”
“Traveling in a camper,” the archbishop continued, “he will journey from community to community as a ‘Missionary of Mercy on Wheels!’ This is but an example of the way in which the Jubilee is meant to reach all, allowing everyone to touch the closeness and the tenderness of God.”
Other Jubilee events
The archbishop also spoke on other Jubilee events, including the first Jubilee Audience to be held in St. Peter’s Square tomorrow.
“Pope Francis,” he noted, “responded generously to the many requests he has received from pilgrims who wish to meet him. Consequently, one Saturday a month has been added to the official calendar for a special audience, one which will be in addition to the regular Wednesday Audiences.”
Already 20,000 people registered for the first Jubilee audience.
Another event of particular interest, he added, is the Jubilee for the Curia, the Governorate, and Institutions connected to the Holy See to be held on Feb. 22.
This celebration, he noted, will begin with a reflection given by Father Marco Rupnik at 8:30 a.m. in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall. After this meditation, there will be a procession through St. Peter’s Square which will pass through the Holy Door. Holy Mass will then be celebrated by Pope Francis at 10 a.m.
Archbishop Fisichella concluded, saying, “The Jubilee continues following its course and we are certain that, in accord with the desires of Pope Francis, it will be an important occasion ‘to live out in our daily lives the mercy which the Father constantly extends to all of us.’”