.- Cardinal Severino Poletto has invited the faithful to complete a novena as the Pope’s visit to the Cathedral of Turin approaches. Stressing the spiritual foundations of the May 2 visit, the cardinal encouraged prayer as a means of living the "true meaning" of the event.
The novena will run from Friday, April 23, until May 1, the day before the Holy Father’s arrival in the northern Italian city.
Expressing his joy at the “extraordinary gift” of the Pope's visit to the city “to venerate the Shroud, but also to meet with our Christian community,” the Cardinal Archbishop of Turin emphasized the spiritual nature of the event.
“My hope is that the many pilgrims to the Shroud ... realize internally a copious return of spiritual fruits for themselves, for their families and for all of society,” he wrote.
Recalling Jesus’ teaching that we must pray to receive divine grace, the cardinal invited all of the parishes, religious communities and other Church-affiliated entities to participate in the nine-day prayer “to dispose our hearts to welcome the Pope properly.”
Cardinal Poletto asked that the entire archdiocese complete the novena for the Pope and “the intentions that He cultivates in his heart” through Mass, the Rosary, Eucharistic adoration or “at least” by remembering him in their daily prayers. From the sick, he also asked the offering of their suffering for the same cause.
The cardinal concluded by expressing his certainty this collective prayer will be “very effective for living the true spiritual meaning of the Papal visit,” which will serve "to remind us that the contemplation of the suffering of Christ, of which the Shroud is a mirror.” Prayerful preparation should also help the faithful to “see, console and sustain the innumerable physical, moral, spiritual and social sufferings of so many of our brothers and sisters.”
The Shroud, which 200,000 people saw during its first week on display, is on exposition from April 10 to May 23 in the Cathedral of Turin. More than 1.6 million people have reserved tickets.
This is the first exposition of the Shroud since the year 2000, and May 2 will mark the first time a Pope will be in Turin to venerate it since John Paul II was there in 1998.