Italian city to become 'pulsating heart' of Church during Sunday's Papal visit

The body of St. Celestine
The body of St. Celestine


On July 4, Pope Benedict XVI will make an Pastoral Visit to the town of Sulmona, Italy. During his visit, which the local region's president said will "in a moment" turn the area into the center of the Universal Church, he will visit Pope Celestine V's relics.

Gianni Chiodi, president of Italy's Abruzzo region where both Sulmona and L'Aquila are located, looked forward to the visit this Sunday saying that "with the presence of the Pontiff, Sulmona and Abruzzo,land in need of hope, rebirth and development, will become in a moment the pulsating heart of the Universal Church."

Arriving on Sunday morning by helicopter, Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass in the town square, "Piazza Garibaldi." Highlights for the day include the inauguration of a house for elderly and sick priests bearing the Pope's name, an encounter with youth in the local cathedral and a visit to the its crypt where he will venerate the relics of Sts. Panfilo and Celestine.

The remains of 13th century Pope Celestine V, known as St. Celestine, were spared in the earthquake in L'Aquila in April 2009 that destroyed the Basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio where his body was held in a glass casket.

The Holy Father visited the city and venerated Celestine V's relics later that month, placing his Papal pallium upon the saint's body. Later, in Sept. of that year, the glass reliquary was moved to a chapel in the Cathedral of Sulmona where it is still housed.

The Holy Father's visit comes within  the "Celestine Year"proclaimed by him in Aug. 2009 for the 800th anniversary of the the saint's birth.

St. Panfilo, who also lies in the crypt of Sulmona's cathedral, was a 7th century Italian bishop.

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