Pope Francis to meet, celebrate Mass with relatives during Turin visit

Pope Francis to meet, celebrate Mass with relatives during Turin visit

Pope Francis greets faithful before mass outside of Istanbul's Cathedral of the Holy Spirit. Credit: Daniel Ibañez/CNA.
Pope Francis greets faithful before mass outside of Istanbul's Cathedral of the Holy Spirit. Credit: Daniel Ibañez/CNA.

.- A son of Italian immigrants, Argentinian native Pope Francis will have the opportunity to meet with distant relatives during his visit to Turin for the first time since coming to Italy after his election.

The family members Francis will meet during his trip “are cousins. Different cousins and various other family members. I don't know them, I only know that there are some from Turin,” Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia told journalists March 25.

The archbishop, who oversees the Turin diocese, spoke with journalists during a press briefing announcing the details of the Pope’s June 21-22 visit this summer.

Pope Francis will meet with his relatives on the 22nd, and will be with them from 10:15 in the morning until 4:30 that afternoon. During that time, he will celebrate Mass and have lunch with them at the archbishop’s residence.

Archbishop Nosiglia said that the request for the encounter essentially made “by the Holy Father, because the Holy Father has always expressed the idea of going to Turin and meeting in some way with his family.”

Francis’ relatives have also contacted him, expressing their interest in meeting, the archbishop said, so “they found an occasion” in the Pope’s Turin visit, which he referred to as “a meeting point” of the desire for such an encounter on both sides.

Born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Pope is the first of five children born to Mario José Bergoglio and Regina María Sívori, who were both originally from Italy’s Piedmont region, which is located roughly 27 miles southeast of Turin.

The Pope will travel to Turin to visit what is believed to be the burial shroud of Jesus, which will be on display to the public during a rare exposition lasting from April 19 to June 24. The last time the Shroud was on display was 2010.

The Shroud of Turin is among the most well-known relics believed to be connected with Christ's Passion and death.

A little more than 14 ft. long and 3-and-a-half feet wide, the cloth is stained with the image of a dead man – front and back – who had been brutally tortured and crucified.

Venerated for centuries by Christians as the burial shroud of Jesus, the relic has been subject to intense scientific study to ascertain its authenticity, and the origins of the image. Evidence suggests that the image had been burned onto the cloth.

Pope Francis’ visit to Turin also coincides with the bicentenary of the birth of Saint John Bosco, founder of the Salesian order and patron saint of youth.

After his arrival, Francis will make his way to the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, where he will venerate the shroud and pause for a short prayer at the tomb of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, another patron of the youth, who is buried in the cathedral.

In addition to the meeting with the Pope’s relatives, other highlights of his trip include Mass, a meeting with prisoners – some of whom are immigrants or homeless, a visit with sick disabled persons.

Francis will also hold an encounter with the area’s youth, and will have lunch with some of them on the 21st, during which he will respond to questions they ask ahead of time.

During the press briefing Archbishop Nosiglia said that due to the bicentenary of Don Bosco's birth, as well as the Pope’s encounter with young people and his visit to Bl. Pier Giorgio's tomb, the visit is being treated as a “mini” World Youth Day, leading up to the 2016 international gathering in Krakow.

The archbishop also noted how all donations made by pilgrims after their visit to the shroud during this year’s exposition will be given to Pope Francis. While tickets to view the shroud are free, pilgrims are invited to leave an offering.

Tags: Shroud of Turin, Pope Francis, Turin