Pope's Lourdes Schedule Confirmed

Will Give 6 Homilies, 3 Major Discourses

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 4, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI's trip to France for the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes is set to include six homilies and three major discourses.



The Vatican released today the official program of the Pope's Sept. 12-15 trip.

The Holy Father will depart from Rome at 9 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 12, landing in Paris two hours later.

The welcome ceremony and courtesy visit to President Nicolas Sarkozy will he held in the Elysee Palace at 12:25 p.m., followed by a meeting with the authorities of state to whom the Pope will deliver a discourse.

At 5 p.m. he is due to meet with delegates from the local Jewish community at the apostolic nunciature in Paris, after which he will travel to the city's College des Bernardins, where he will encounter representatives from the world of culture.

He will then preside at vespers in the cathedral of Notre-Dame with priests, religious, seminarians and deacons, and greet young people gathered in front of the building.

On Saturday, Sept. 13, the Pontiff will make a brief visit to the Institut de France before going on to celebrate Mass at 10 a.m. on the Esplanade des Invalides.

At 4:30 p.m., he is scheduled to travel by plane to Lourdes where he will visit the Church of the Sacred Heart and the house of visionary Bernadette Soubirous.

He will then proceed to the grotto. At 9:30 p.m. he is due to close the torchlight Marian procession on the esplanade of the Shrine of Lourdes.

On Sunday, Sept. 14, on the Meadow in Lourdes, Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass for the 150th anniversary of the apparitions, then pray the Angelus. At 5.15 p.m. he is due to meet with French bishops and, an hour later, to address participants in a Eucharistic procession on the Meadow.

At 8:45 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 15, the Pope will visit the Oratory of the Hospital in Lourdes, then celebrate Mass for the sick in the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary.

The departure ceremony is due to take place at 12:30 p.m. The Holy Father's plane is scheduled to arrive in Rome at 5:15 p.m.