Pope to Venerate Relics of St. Celestine V
Former Pontiff Abdicated After 5 Months
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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 16, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI will visit the earthquake scourged Abruzzi region of Italy on July 4 and venerate the relics of St. Celestine V, the 13th-century Pope who abdicated the papacy after only five months.
The Vatican press office published the official program for the one-day trip to the city of Sulmona, located about an hour southwest of the epicenter of the April 2009 quake that left more than 300 dead and more than 65,000 homeless in and around the city of L'Aquila.
Benedict XVI visited the region that same month, at which time he made a stop at the Collemaggio Basilica in L'Aquila to pray in front of the casket with the remains of Celestine V. To emphasize his spiritual solidarity, the Pontiff left there the pallium that he received at the beginning of his pontificate.
The Pontiff then convoked a Celestine Year -- from Aug. 28, 2009, to Aug. 29, 2010 -- that celebrates the 800th birthday of the Pope. The saint's remains have been on pilgrimage during this year throughout the dioceses of the region.
Born as Pietro Angeleri in 1209, the future Pope and saint became a monk and hermit who founded the Celestines. He was elected Pontiff in 1294, at the age of 80 and after a two-year deliberation by the College of Cardinals.
He resigned after five months in order to return to the life of a hermit, naming as his motivations: "the desire for humility, for a purer life, for a stainless conscience, the deficiencies of his own physical strength, his ignorance, the perverseness of the people, his longing for the tranquility of his former life."
Celestine V was imprisoned by his successor, Pope Boniface VIII, and he died 10 months later.
Benedict XVI will leave the Vatican at 8:30 a.m. (Rome time) and fly by helicopter to Sulmona, where he will arrive at the Serafini Sports Field of the Coronada Sport Complex at 9:20 a.m.
The Pontiff will be welcomed in Garibaldi Square by the Mayor Fabio Federico of Sulmona and by Bishop Angelo Spina of Sulmona-Valva, where the Holy Father will preside at Mass.
Benedict XVI will lunch with the bishops of Abruzzo at 1:15 pm in the priests' house of the diocesan pastoral center of Sulmona.
While there, at 4:30 p.m. he will greet the members of the visit's organizing committee and will meet with a delegation of the penitentiary center (Casa Circondariale) of Sulmona.
At 5 p.m., the Pope will meet with young people, whom he will address in the Cathedral of Sulmona.
Afterward, the Pontiff will pray before the relics of St. Celestine V in the cathedral's crypt.
The Pope will leave by helicopter at 5:45 pm and will arrive in the Vatican at 6:35 pm.
The visit to Sulmona is one of the Pope's four pastoral visits within Italy this year: Turin (May), Sulmona (July), Carpineto Romano (September), and Palermo (October).