On Sunday, June 3, 2018, Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, Pope Francis will preside over the Eucharistic Celebration at Ostia, on the outskirts of Rome, in the Square located in front of Saint Monica’s parish, stated a press release of the Vicariate of Rome. It’s an initiative that breaks with the tradition of the last decades, according to which the Popes celebrated a Mass at Saint John Lateran, followed by a procession from Via Merulana to Saint Mary Major.
At the beginning of the ceremony, the traditional procession with the Most Holy Sacrament will unfold on a one kilometer and 200 meters course, through some streets of the neighbourhood. It will end in the parking area of Martinica street near the parish of Our Lady of Bonaria, where the Pontiff will impart a Eucharistic Blessing. To prepare for the feast of the Most Holy Sacrament, the eight parishes of Ostia are organizing a Prayer Vigil on Wednesday, May 30, at 9:00 pm in the small Idroscalo beach.
For more than 40 years, the feast of the Most Holy Sacrament was celebrated by a Bishop of Rome in his Lateran Cathedral. “A tradition is being broken, but to take up another, stressed the Bishop of the south sector, of which Ostia forms part, Monsignor Paolo Lojudice. Up to 1978, with Paul VI, the celebration of the Most Holy Sacrament was held in various and different areas of the city. In 1968, Pope Paul VI celebrated it in fact at Ostia.
“I believe that this enters Pope Francis’ pastoral logic, in his ‘magisterium of signs,’ who wants the Church to go out on the streets, to the peripheries, in closeness with the milieus and the most delicate situations,” he continued. “Next Sunday’s procession, is a beautiful occasion for the whole district: it isn’t a visit to a parish, but to a whole community,” added Monsignor Lojudice. Concelebrating will be Archbishop Angelo De Donatis, the Pope’s Vicar for the diocese of Rome, the Auxiliary Bishops and the priests of the Ostia parishes.
Some 850 children, who have just made their First Communion, will take part in the feast of the Most Holy Sacrament; they have been asked to bring a white alb. There will also be 150 adolescents of “oratories” (patronages), who will be identifiable by their yellow T-shirts, and 350 young Confirmation candidates with red T-shirts.
Six parishes, part of the diocese of Rome, will participate: Saint Monica, Our Lady of Bonaria, Saint Mary Queen of Peace, Saint Mary Star of the Sea, Saint Nicholas of Bari and Saint Vincent de Paul, as well as two communities belonging to the suburban diocese of Ostia, the smallest of Italy and among the oldest: Saint Augustine Bishop, at Stagni, and Saint Aure at Ostia Antica.