.- This morning, Pope Benedict XVI left Rome for a six-day trip to Brazil. His plane left from Rome's Fiumicino airport bound for Brazil At 9 a.m. this morning,. The 9,477-kilometer flight is expected to last twelve and a half hours and the papal plane is scheduled to land at the international airport of Sao Paulo / Guarulhos in Brazil in the mid-afternoon, at around 4.30 p.m. local time.
Together with the Holy Father, travelling with him, are Secretary of State, Cardenal Tarcisio Bertone, Cardenal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops and President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, Former Archbishop of Sao Paulo, and now Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes, and finnaly Cardinal JosÃ© Saraiva Martins, Prefect of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints.
The Holy Father will be greeted at the airport by Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the president of the Federal Republic of Brazil. Following the welcome ceremony, during which Benedict XVI will deliver a talk, the Pope will travel by helicopter to the "Campo de Marte" airport where he will be received by the local authorities.
At 6.10 p.m. (11.10 p.m. in Rome), the Holy Father will travel by popemobile to the monastery of Sao Bento where he will be staying during his time in Sao Paulo. The complex of buildings includes, apart from the Benedictine monastery, the Sao Benito College, one of the most prestigious schools in Sao Paulo, and the basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption.
Following a moment of prayer in the monastery's chapel, the Pope will appear at the balcony to greet and bless the faithful gathered below.
On Thursday, the Pontiff will first visit the President of the Republic, Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva, as well as with representatives of other Christian confessions and religions. In the late afternoon, he will meet the youth at municipal Stadium in Pacambu, Sao Paulo. On Friday, Pope Benedict will canonize Blessed Frei Galvao during Holy Mass celebrated at the Campo Marte before a numerous crowed.
Pope Benedict's visit will be concluded with the Inauguration of the Fifth General Conference of the Latin American Episcopate and the Caribbean in the square in front of the Shrine of Aparecida on Sunday.