As was announced last week, the Press Office of the Holy See released the schedule for the year dedicated to St. Paul today. Running from 28 June 2008 to 29 June 2009, the celebration will focus on rediscovering the person of St. Paul and his teachings, improving unity amongst Christians and pilgrimages to places associated with his life.
At a press conference at the Vatican today, Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, the archpriest of the basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, gave a presentation of the coming year’s events.
He remarked how when Pope Benedict proclaimed the Pauline year to commemorate the second millennium of the birth of the Apostle of the Gentiles he highlighted the ecumenical dimension of the event. St. Paul "was particularly committed to bringing the Good News to all people, and made prodigious efforts for the unity and harmony of all Christians,” the Holy Father noted.
Cardinal Montezemolo explained how the Pauline year "will provide an occasion" to undertake various activities: "rediscover the figure of the Apostle; reread the numerous Letters he sent to the first Christian communities; relive the early years of our Church; delve deeply into his rich teaching to the 'gentiles'; meditate on his vigorous spirituality of faith, hope and charity; make a pilgrimage to his tomb and to the numerous places he visited while founding the first ecclesial communities; revitalize our faith and our role in today's Church in the light of his teachings; pray and work for the unity of all Christians in a united Church".
Numerous activities are planned at all levels for the Pauline year. On the pastoral level there will be daily ordinary and extraordinary liturgical celebrations, meetings for prayer and the Sacrament of Penance. A cultural religious program has also been developed and includes catecheses on St. Paul, conferences, congresses and concerts.
Artistic tributes to St. Paul and his dedication to the Gospel will also be presented. Exhibitions, publications, postage stamps, the coining of a special medal, the issue of a stamp and a two euro coin by the Governorate of Vatican City State are all in the works for the celebration.
People will also have the opportunity to go on pilgrimages to Pauline sites in and outside of Rome. Within Rome, pilgrims can visit the basilica of St. Paul's Outside the Walls and find their way through it with a soon-to-be-published guide, which will be available in numerous languages.
The Pauline year will also see the significant academic contribution of a new edition of the Acts of the Apostles and of the Letters of St. Paul.
Finally, the cardinal turned his attention the ecumenical program, ecumenism being an important aspect of the Pauline Year. He announced that the chapel currently used as the baptistery, located between the basilica and the cloister of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls, will become the "Ecumenical Chapel, maintaining its characteristic baptismal font but designated as a place in which to offer our Christian brethren a special place for prayer, either within their own groups, ... or together with Catholics, without the celebration of the Sacraments".
This chapel will also be used to house the remains of St. Timothy of Antioch and of other unknown fourth century martyrs, which were discovered in the hypogeum of St. Paul during restoration work on the basilica in 2006.
Cardinal Montezemolo also made public a website under construction that will be constantly updated with information relating to the Pauline Year. The web address is: www.annopaolino.org (currently only available in Italian and French)