It's official. Malta is on the Holy Father's calendar for an apostolic visit in April. The Pope's plans for Easter have also been made public on a calendar released on Friday by the Vatican.
On April 17 and 18 the Pope will be on the Mediterranean island of Malta for his first apostolic visit of the year. The Pontiff will lead celebrations there for the 1,950th anniversary of St. Paul's shipwreck there. The Archdiocese of Malta has reported that Pope will arrive on Saturday afternoon, at which time he will visit the Grotto of St. Paul in Rabat.
On Sunday, Benedict XVI is set to celebrate Mass in the city of Floriana and will later visit a group of Maltese youth before making an exit that afternoon.
This apostolic visit will be the first of at least three in 2010, according to Vatican Radio reports. In addition to Malta, he will be going to Portugal in May and Cyprus in June. It has also been widely reported that preparations are being made for a papal visit to Great Britain in September.
Other events on the Pope's agenda for the next three months include celebrations for the Lenten season and Easter.
On Feb. 17, Ash Wednesday, Benedict XVI will be presiding over the "statio" and the Penitential Procession at the Basilica of San Anselm. He will also be at the Basilica of Santa Sabina for Holy Mass and the blessing and imposition of the Ashes.
On Palm Sunday (March 28, 2010), the Pope will oversee a morning celebration in St. Peter's Square with the Blessing of the Palms, to be followed by a procession and Mass.
On Monday, March 29, the Pope will offer Mass to commemorate the April 2, 2005 anniversary of the death of Servant of God John Paul II.
On Holy Thursday, he will celebrate the Chrism Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, followed later by the first Mass of the Easter Triduum in the Basilica of St. John Lateran.
Good Friday's afternoon celebration of the Passion of the Lord will be will be held at St. Peter's Basilica and the "Via crucis" will take place in the evening at the Colosseum.
Holy Saturday, will see the Pope at the Easter Vigil in St. Peter's.
On Easter Sunday, April 4, Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass in St. Peter's Square in the morning followed by an appearance in the central "Loggia," the window above the main doors of the Vatican basilica, at noon, at which time he will give the "Urbi et Orbi" benediction.
Other notable events presided over by the Holy Father in the next three months include a Concistory for "some" Causes of Canonization, spiritual exercises in his private chapel Redemptoris Mater, a pastoral visit to a local Roman church and a meeting with youth to prepare them for next year's World Youth Day in Madrid.