On Friday afternoon, Nov. 1, Solemnity of All Saints, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at the entrance of Rome’s Verano cemetery. The Mass will be followed by a prayer and the blessing of the tombs, states the Web page of the Diocese of Rome. The Pope, who is Bishop of Rome, will also give a message to the faithful of his city.
The huge cemetery is the principal and best known one of the Eternal City, and it is described as a “museum in the open” because of the number of artistic cultural works of the 19th and 20th centuries.
The cemetery was established during the Napoleonic reign (1805-1814), following an edict that obliged burials to take place outside the city’s walls. On Pope Pius VII’s return to Rome, after Napoleon’s abdication, he kept the regulations of the cemetery.
Also buried there in a specific area are the Papal Zouaves, the elite military corps made up of volunteer combatants, many of whom died defending the city of Rome before its fall, during the Italian unification and Pius IX’s pontificate.