.- Beginning next month the Archdiocese of Baltimore will celebrate its bicentennial, with some events coinciding with Pope Benedict XVI’s first papal visit to the United States, the Baltimore Sun reports.
Archbishop of Baltimore Edwin F. O’Brien said the Pope is expected to acknowledge the archdiocese as the nation’s first.
"During his visit, our Holy Father will commemorate an important date in the history of our local church and the church in the United States: April 8, 1808," Archbishop O'Brien said at a news conference outlining the events for the bicentennial. "The Archdiocese of Baltimore will be represented in Washington and New York when the Pope honors this important anniversary."
The Archdiocese of Baltimore provided to Baltimore-area Catholics 2,500 tickets for the April 17 Mass in Washington, D.C., and 1,000 tickets for the April 20 Papal Mass in New York City.
Pope Benedict did not accept an invitation to visit Baltimore on his U.S. trip due to his age and the already lengthy schedule.
Archbishop O’Brien described his own expectations for Pope Benedict’s visit, saying, "I think we'll get a good read on our faith and culture in the United States of America from a very perceptive outsider."
The Archdiocese of Baltimore is planning other events to mark the anniversary. The archdiocese will hold a groundbreaking for a new prayer garden on April 11, while on the next day an exhibit about the archdiocese’s 200-year history will be presented at St. Mary’s Seminary in North Baltimore.
On April 13, Archbishop O’Brien will celebrate a bicentennial Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, after which he will dedicate a bust of his predecessor Cardinal William H. Keeler.
Musical performances at the Basilica are planned for April 13 and June 1. A lecture series is planned for April, May, and June. The lectures will discuss the founder of the archdiocese, Bishop John Carroll, papal history, and young adults’ relationship to the Church.
The Diocese of Baltimore was founded in 1789. It was elevated to an archdiocese in 1808.