Next June, Pope Benedict XVI will make an apostolic visit to the Diocese of San Marino-Montefeltro. The visit will not be a first by a Pope to the unique diocese which spans two nations.
The news was announced on San Marino public radio and confirmed to CNA by Fr. Ciro Benedettini of the Holy See's Press Office on Friday. Being from San Marino himself, Fr. Benedettini clarified that the visit would not only be to the Republic of San Marino, but also to the Italian part of the diocese, which includes the territory of Montefeltro.
The Holy Father will make a day trip to the diocese on June 19, 2011, spending the morning in San Marino and the afternoon in the Montefeltro area. No specific details are immediately available as the visit is still in the planning stages.
Montefeltro is a historical division that covers areas several Italian provinces that now border the "Most Serene Republic of San Marino" and the diocese dates back to the 8th century. The bishop's see is at the city of Pennabilli, on the Italian side, but the diocese has a total of three cathedrals. One, the basilica co-cathedral of San Marino is within the walls of the republic.
Sixty-nine of the parishes in the diocese are Italian while another 12 are located in San Marino, Europe's oldest republic and, along with the Vatican, one of a handful of "microstates" on the continent.
The last time a Pope visited the area was when John Paul II did so in August 1982, a visit qualified as "apostolic" rather than "pastoral" because part of it took place outside Italian borders.