.- It was with "great joy and emotion" that the Patriarch of Venice, Cardinal Angelo Scola, revealed plans for a papal visit to his archdiocese next spring. Benedict XVI will visit the cities of Venice and Aquileia from May 7-8, he announced.
During an annual pastoral meeting for priests at St. Mark's Cathedral in Venice, Cardinal Scola confirmed that the Holy Father has accepted his invitation and will take part in important pastoral initiatives in the two locations.
The visit will begin on May 7 when the Pope will spend the afternoon with those preparing for an inter-diocesan conference in Aquileia. Representatives from all of the dioceses of northeastern Italy, Slovenia, Croatia and Austria will all be there for the opening.
Later that evening Benedict XVI will travel to Venice, where he will spend the night. On May 8 the Holy Father will participate in the conclusion of the Pastoral Visit that has been going on in the patriarchate since 2004.
Speaking to the priests in the cathedral, the cardinal patriarch told them that by "preparing ourselves carefully and living this extraordinary event together we will be able to better comprehend the precious signs that the Spirit has disseminated among us along this period of grace and so open ourselves to the future full of hope."
He invited all Church members and realities in the dioceses to "mobilize themselves" to welcome the Pope. He pointed out that it has been 26 years since John Paul II visited Venice. Paul VI also visited the city 40 years ago, he said, and Pope's Pius X, John XXIII and John Paul I all served as patriarchs there in the last century.