The next week will be a busy one for the Pope. There are two journeys on the calendar.
Tomorrow and Sunday, he will be in Loreto, in northern Italy, for a gathering of youth called the “Agora.”
Here is his schedule, which includes, tomorrow evening, one of those sessions we all appreciate so much – a Q & A with the young people, giving Benedict a chance to shine as the teacher he is.
4:10 p.m. — Departure from Castel Gandolfo’s heliport to Loreto.
5:15 p.m. — Arrival at the John Paul II Center in Montorso, Loreto. The Pope will go in “popemobile” to the balcony located along the esplanade of Montorso.
6 p.m. — Vigil with the youth at the esplanade of Montorso. The Holy Father will answer the young people’s questions and give an address.
9:15 p.m. — Visit to the Shrine of Loreto. 9:25 p.m. — A moment of private prayer in the Holy House. The youth will accompany the Holy Father’s prayer via television connection with the esplanade of Montorso. The young people will continue with an all-night vigil.Sunday, Sept. 29:30 a.m. — Eucharistic celebration in the esplanade of Montorso. Homily of the Holy Father, and Angelus and greeting after Mass.4:30 p.m. — Greeting to the organizing committee, the pontifical delegation and the civil protection forces from the balcony of the apostolic palace of Loreto.5 p.m. — Encounter with the faithful of Loreto in the atrium of the sanctuary. Words of the Holy Father.
EWTN will be broadcasting much of the visit live and, of course, you can watch it on the Vatican’s television linkup online.Vatican page on the visit (Nothing much up yet, of course, but eventually the texts of his talks will be there)
Here’s the official homepage of the event (in Italian)
This thread at the Papa Ratzinger Forum has many good articles, some in translation from the Italian press about the visit and background of the Loreto shrine. The articles cover the background of the shrine, the expectations for the event, and even Benedict’s several previous visits to the shrine before he became Pope. It will also be the place to look for updates and more articles and the visit progresses. A few snippets from articles.
From Osservatore Romano:
The pilgrimage of Benedict XVI and Italian youth to Loreto will be a feast of faith, as altogether, next Saturday and Sunday, they will
venerate the Holy House of the Incarnation, the site where ‘Verbum caro factum est’ – the Word was made flesh.
The Loreto encounter which has the theme, “As I have loved you..”, is not an episodic event. It is part of the Agora triennial project of the Church of Italy with the aim of placing the youth more firmly along the path of faith.
The point of reference for the meeting is the teenaged girl of Nazareth who became the Mother of God.
Mary has always helped young people ‘fall in love’ with Christ, she has always helped them be joyously a part of the Church.The Christian formation of the new generations is today, more than ever, a demanding and irrenunciable mission for the Church.
The Eucharist and prayer will be the two ‘driving forces’ of the Pope’s visit to Loreto, under the aegis of the Holy House which is a most precious ‘relic’ and a most concrete symbol of the Incarnation.
It is always with great emotion and awe that one crosses the threshold of the Holy House. Within that structure, the Word was made Flesh, and the Incarnation takes on its authentic and awesome truth: It is not a fascinating abstract doctrine. It was a historic event that took place at a precise point in time and in this particular space.
The sense of history is in the eyes of the Mother and Son in the image at Loreto. The history of salvation. We are constrained to pray, with all naturalness and simplicity, before this image. In it we see love. And the story of generations of Christians who have come here for centuries to venerate the House and look on these eyes.
For this reason, Benedict XVI’s pilgrimage to Loreto ties in with his apostolic voyage five days later to Austria.
In Loreto, the Pope will say farewell to those eyes only to see them again in Mariazell.
In September – month of the Marian feasts of Mary’s Nativity, of her Most Blessed Name, and of Our Lady of Sorrows – the Pope will be a pilgrim to two of Europe’s major Marian shrines.
He will be joining the youth of Italy, Austria and the rest of the Continent who have been preparing themselves for this encounter through prayer, meditation and a shared sense of mission.
On the stage/altar:
On September 1, at the encounter between the Pope and the youth, he background image on the stage is taken from the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, flanked on each side by reporductions of mosaics from the St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice.
Afterwards, during the testimonial-cum-entertainment program, a series of porjections will provide the background.On Sunday, for the Mass, the Angel of the Apocalypse will rise from the ‘ambone’, the altar will have an icon of the Lamb, the Cross will e a reproduction of Mello da Gubbio’s Cross in the Cathedral of Pergola.
From Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference:
The youth of Italy – as many as half a million are expected – will have two days of encounter with the Pope in Loreto on September 1-2.
Most of them are expected to arrive Saturday morning in Loreto, the northeastern Italian city which is the site of the House of Nazareth and one of the major Marian shrines in Italy.
Prior to that, some 80,000 youth will be guests of homes in 32 dioceses of the Marche, Umbria, Abruzzo and Emilia-Romagna from August 29-31. The Agora activities will be held in a valley alled Montorso outside Loreto.
Participants will begin their activity by a pilgrimage on foot from the city to Montorso.There will be musical shows galore to keep them entertained before the big event of the day.Pope Benedict XVI is expected to arrive at mid-afternoon for a prayer encounter.
He will deliver a meditation on the Annunciation, and will spend at least two hours with the youth.
This will be followed by an evening program during which testimonials by various young people will be interspersed with music and spectacle, at which famous Italian entertainers will be performing.
During the night, the youth will have meditations and discussions in eight spaces called ‘fountains’ divided according to their subject of interest: Marian prayer, reconciliation, Eucharistic adoration; youth problems, vocations, sexuality; ecumenism and conservation of nature. Sunday, September 2, will start with church bells pealing all over Loreto and the celebration of Lauds.The highlight will be the Mass celebrated by the Pope, who will consign a ‘missionary mandate’ to 72 representatives of the youth (72 is the Biblical number for the peoples of the earth). This will be the culmination of the Agora national youth encounter, which prepares the way for World Youth Day in Sydney from July 15-20, 2008, which Pope Benedict will attend.
Youth representatives from 53 nations, mostly Europe and the Mediterranean countries, are also coming to Loreto, along with a delegation of 14 from the Sydney WYD.
A special project of the Agora is to raise 500,000 euro from contributions to send to the diocese of Emdeber in Ethiopia for a church and youth center, on the occasion of the Jubilee 2000 celebration by Ethiopian Christians who observe the Julian calendar.
Then next week, the Pope will travel to Austria, for the 850th anniversary of the Shrine of Mariazell.
Vatican page on the journey here.
Papa Ratzinger Forum thread on the visit here, with many good articles posted already.
The official website for the visit – an English version.
And of course, blogger Gerald of “The Cafeteria is Closed” will be covering the visit from his native Austria!