Story of Pope's desire to visit Sicily emerges
By Andrea Gagliarducci
Pope Francis greets people after celebrating Mass at St. Anne's parish on March 17, 2013. Credit: L'Osservatore Romano.
Pope Francis greets people after celebrating Mass at St. Anne's parish on March 17, 2013. Credit: L'Osservatore Romano.

.- Some might call it fate, but through a series of providential connections, Bishop Michele Pennisi discovered that Pope Francis wants to visit Sicily “as soon as possible.”

The story begins with Father Pasquale Di Dio waiting for Pope Francis outside the Vatican parish of Sant’Anna on March 17, standing next to an Argentinian priest.

“The Pope,” Fr. Di Dio related in an April 2 interview with CNA, “recognized and called by name the Argentinian priest, telling him to come into the church. I followed him. This is how I could have access to the Mass in Sant’Anna.”

After the Mass, Fr. Di Dio gave the Pope’s secretary, Monsignor Alfred Xuereb, a letter for Pope Francis.

“In the letter,” he explained, “I asked for special blessings for my family.”

But Fr. Di Dio was surprised to receive a phone call at 9:00 p.m. on April 1 from Msgr. Xuereb, who told him, “the Pope would be pleased to have you and your family at the morning Mass at the Domus Sanctae Martae, on April the 2nd.”

So, he quickly looked for a plane from Sicily to get him and his family to Rome in time for the Pope’s 7:30 a.m. Mass the next morning.

After the Mass, the Pope invited the priest and his family to have breakfast with him.

“During the breakfast, Fr. Di Dio told the Pope that he is my secretary,” Bishop Michele Pennisi explained in an April 2 conversation.

Then “Pope Francis asked Fr. Di Dio to call me. When I answered, he just told me that the Pope was on the line.”

Bishop Pennisi is currently the administrator of the Piazza Armerina diocese, but he has already been appointed Archbishop of Monreale, where he will be installed on April 27.

Bishop Pennisi recounts: “I also was at Sant’Anna on March 17. I did not attend the celebration, but I was in Rome, and so Fr. Di Dio called me inviting me to go.”

Bishop Pennisi arrived in time to see the Pope exit the parish and was able to greet him.

He gave the Pope a letter asking for prayers for his diocese, and the bishop said “the Pope assured me his prayers for the Diocese of Piazza Armerina, which I will be leaving in a few days, and for the Archdiocese of Monreale.

“He also told me that he wishes to visit Sicily as soon as possible.”  

“It seems like John Paul II’s times are back,” Bishop Pennisi remarked.

John Paul II used to invite people to attend the Mass he held in his private chapel in the early morning and then for breakfast or lunch.

It was such a common habit that Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office and Vatican Radio, encouraged the Italian journalist Angela Ambrogetti to write a book about John Paul II's "informal" lunch table conversations.

In the end, she authored two books in Italian on the press conferences Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI held as they flew to visit the Church overseas.

Tags: Papal Visits, Pope Francis

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic

Liturgical Calendar

April 15, 2014

Tuesday of Holy Week

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Jn 13:21-33, 36-38


Daily Readings

Saint of the Day

St. Peter Gonzalez »


Homily of the Day

Jn 13:21-33, 36-38


Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
Text only

Follow us: