Vatican City, Mar 27, 2015 / 14:49 pm
An informal announcement was made on Friday at the close of the Italian bishops conference's spring meeting in Rome revealing that Pope Francis will visit the two Tuscan cities Nov. 10.
“We welcome the news that the Holy Father will be in Prato with great joy,” Bishop Franco Agostinelli of Prato said March 27.
The bishop explained that “our whole diocese is celebrating this event, which will mark our history: Peter will truly visit out Church and confirm us in the faith.”
Simultaneously announced in Rome, Prato, and Florence, the news of the Pope’s visit came at the end of a gathering of the permanent council of the Italian bishops conference at the Vatican.
Francis’s November trip will be his first time traveling to both Florence and Prato, which are both located in Italy’s northern Tuscan region and sit about 15 miles apart.
St. John Paul II visited Prato in 1986, meeting with various people from the diocese, primarily workers.
In Rome the announcement of Francis’ daytrip was given by the secretary of the Italian bishops conferenc, Bishop Nunzio Galantino.
The purpose of the Pope’s trip, which coincides with the Fifth National Ecclesial Convention of the Italian Church, is to give special attention to the Church in Italy, Bishop Galantino explained.
Cardinal Giuseppe Betori of Florence made the announcement in his archdiocese, saying, “it is a great joy” to welcome Pope Francis.
Although the details are still being finalized, a rough sketch of what the Pope’s schedule will be was included in the announcement.
It begins with his arrival to Prato by helicopter around 8 am, where he will be welcomed by Bishop Agostinelli as well as the city’s mayor, Matthew Biffoni. Francis will then go to the cathedral to meet with workers.
Then around 9 am the Pope will transfer to Florence, where he will meet with participants in the National Ecclesial Convention in the city’s cathedral.
Roughly half an hour later he will make his way to the Basilica of the Holy Annunciation for an encounter with the sick, and at 1 pm is scheduled to have lunch with the poor in the soup kitchen Poor Saint Francis, located in Florence’s Holy Annunciation Square.
At 3:30 pm Francis is expected to say Mass in the municipal stadium “Luigi Franchi,” and afterward return to the Vatican.