In commemoration of the World Day for the Sick, the basilica of St. Peter's will host pilgrims with illnesses from all parts of the globe. The celebration of the Mass will also mark the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the foundation of the Pontifical Council for Health Ministry.
The Eucharistic celebration will be presided over by Pope Benedict XVI at St. Peter's on the morning of Feb. 11.
As is customary on the occasion of the World Day for the Sick, the Holy See extends a particular invitation for the celebration to the members of UNITALSI, an Italian association that organizes pilgrimages for thousands of sick people to a number of holy sites every year. They also arrange for a pilgrimage to Rome every year on this date to venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes and celebrate the Day for the Sick.
Hours after the celebration of the Mass, the sick and the volunteers associated with UNITALSI, the president of the Pontifical Council for Health Ministry, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski and the mayor of Rome will take part in a Eucharistic procession carrying with them the relics of St. Bernadette and a Statue of Our Lady of Lourdes. The route will run the half-mile from Castel Sant'Angelo to St. Peter's Square, where the Pope will impart upon them the Apostolic blessing from the window of the Papal apartment.
The event will wrap up a series of activities scheduled to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Pontifical Council for Health Ministry.