Rome is preparing to receive the sick and disabled this weekend, which will be an occasion to highlight their conditions to a public opinion that is often unjustly forgetful of these, explained Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, during the presentation on Thursday in the Holy See Press Office of the activities planned for this event in the Year of Mercy.
As he began the presentation, Archbishop Fisichella announced that the latest up-to-date data indicate that the number of pilgrims that have come to Rome for the different Jubilee occasions, including visits to the four Vatican Basilicas, is 9,100,935 – “a really significant number for the first six months of the Jubilee event, which confirms the great desire of faithful worldwide to come to Rome to see Pope Francis, despite the fact that Doors of Mercy are spread throughout the world,” he explained.
The Jubilee will begin tomorrow, Friday, June 10, with a catechesis addressed especially to deaf and blind persons imparted by deaf and blind Redemptorist Father Cyril Axelrod, known worldwide, especially in China, the United Kingdom and South Africa, for his absolute commitment to the disabled.
On Saturday, two special events will be held. In the morning there will be catecheses in several churches in central Rome. In the afternoon, there will be entertainment in the gardens of Castel Sant’Angelo.
On Sunday, the conclusion of the Jubilee, Pope Francis will preside over a concelebrated Mass, which can be followed in sign language. The liturgical service and readings will be by disabled individuals. In particular, among the altar servers, there will be boys with Down’s syndrome and mental disability; among the deacons, there will be a deaf German.
A disabled Spaniard will do the First Reading; a blind girl will read the Second in braille. Deaf persons of different countries will translate all the Readings in international sign language, and sick and disabled persons of various nationalities will recite the Prayer of the Faithful.
In addition, the reading of the Gospel will be “represented” for the first time in Saint Peter’s Square by a group of mentally disabled individuals, to make it possible for pilgrims with mental and intellectual disability to understand the text.
Finally, Archbishop Fisichella mentioned an initiative promoted by the MedTag Foundation, “which we have received with particular enthusiasm and we are certain it will make a great contribution to this Jubilee moment”: beginning on Friday, June 10, four “Health Points” will be established in the surroundings of the four Vatican Basilicas offering free specialized health care, especially to the numerous homeless in the city.
Some 350 volunteers, between Religious, the Red Cross, military men and health workers, will make general medical visits to 700 homeless persons as well as offer some specialized care. Also planned are inoculations against pneumonia, one of the most serious pathologies among these people.