Vatican City, Mar 25, 2015 / 23:09 pm
The Vatican has released the schedule for Pope Francis' upcoming pilgrimage to Turin – home to what is believed to be the burial shroud of Jesus – with a program that largely centers on young people.
The pontiff's June 21-22 visit to the northern Italian city also marks the bicentenary of the birth of Saint John Bosco, founder of the Salesian order and patron saint of youth.
According to the Vatican, which released the schedule during a March 25 press briefing, the Pope will venerate the shroud in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist shortly after his arrival in Turin, before pausing for a brief moment of prayer at the tomb of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, another patron of the youth, who is buried in a nearby altar.
This year's papal visit coincides with a rare exposition of the shroud, which will be on display to the public from April 19 to June 24, having been most recently on display in 2010.
One of the highlights of the pilgrimage will be an encounter with young people in Piazza Vittorio, located in Turin's historic center.
The program also includes a stop at a juvenile prison, where the Holy Father will have lunch with the young detainees, a group of immigrants and homeless persons.
Saint John Bosco (1815-1888), popularly known as "Don Bosco," was known for his work with the young people, particularly disadvantaged youth such as street children and juvenile delinquents. Canonized April 1, 1934, he is buried in Turin's Our Lady Help of Christians basilica, which had served as part of a home for poor boys founded by the saint.
During Wednesday's press briefing, Turin Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia, pontifical guardian of the shroud, addressed some of the themes of the forthcoming visit.
Owing to the bicentenary of Don Bosco's birth, the visit to Blessed Pier Giorgio's tomb, and encounter with young people, Archbishop Nosiglia said the pilgrimage is being proposed as a "mini" World Youth Day in the lead-up to WYD 2016 in Krakow.
The archbishop also noted one change during this year's exposition of the shroud, which is that all donations made by pilgrims after their visit to the relic will be given to Pope Francis. While tickets to view the shroud are free, pilgrims have been in the past invited to leave an offering.
Other highlights of the trip will include Sunday morning Mass in Piazza Vittorio, followed by a meeting with the sick and disabled in the afternoon at the Church of Cottolengo. On Monday, the Pope will take part in an ecumenical meeting at the Tempio Valdese (Waldensian Temple), followed by Mass at the archbishop's palace. He will depart for Rome by plane at 5 p.m.
The Shroud of Turin is among the most well-known relics believed to be connected with Christ's Passion. A little more than 14 ft. long and 3-and-a-half feet wide, the cloth is stained with the postmortem image of a man – front and back – who has been brutally tortured and crucified. Venerated for centuries by Christians as the burial shroud of Jesus, it has been subject to intense scientific study to ascertain its authenticity, and the origins of the image.