· Pope Francis’ visit to Mexico ·
The Holy Father’s visit to Mexico will begin with a historic, ecumenical stop in Cuba. On Friday, 12 February, Pope Francis will meet with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill at the Havana Airport before travelling to Mexico for his 12 international visit. The meeting will not change the Pope’s itinerary in the Latin American country, however the papal plane will depart early so that the Holy Father will arrive on schedule in Mexico City at 7:30 pm.
At the centre of his visit in Mexico — the 21st country visited during his pontificate — will be various dioceses located throughout the country which have never been visited by a pontiff before. It was Francis’ wish to stop in cities to which neither John Paul ii nor Benedict xvi had previously travelled. The Holy Father will also pay tribute to the “Mother of the Americas”, Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Mexico City. On Saturday afternoon, 13 February, the Pontiff will visit the Marian Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, where he will crown the image of the miraculous Virgin with a crown made of gold and silver. That morning, Francis will visit the country’s President and the members of the Chamber of Deputies and of the Senate in the National Palace, and then the bishops of Mexico in the city’s cathedral.
On Sunday, 14 February, the Pope will visit the extremely populous and poor area of Ecatepec de Morelos, located 22 km from the federal district. Here the Pope will celebrate Mass in the morning and then return to the capital city where he will visit a pediatric hospital. Francis will stop in the rooms of children with cancer.
The next day the Pontiff will travel south to the city of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, the capital of Chiapas, the southern most state in Mexico, land of transition for those migrating from and through Guatemala. In San Cristóbal de las Casas, the Pope will celebrate Mass which will include songs and readings in the indigenous languages of the area. On this occasion the Pontiff will also consign a decree authorizing the use of indigenous languages in the liturgy. Then he will have lunch in the bishop’s residence with representatives of the indigenous communities. That afternoon, the Holy Father will visit the sick in the cathedral where the remains of Bishop Bartolomé de las Casas are held. At the end of the day, a mass for families will be held in the stadium of Tuxtla Gutiérrez. That evening, the Pope will return to Mexico City.
On Tuesday, 16 February, the Pope will travel to Morelia, where he will meet with the clergy and consecrated men and women in the stadium. Then, at lunchtime, he will stop to speak with children in catechism class. That afternoon, the Pope will meet an expected 50,000 young people in the stadium. The following day, 17 February, Francis will travel to one of the most symbolic locations of the visit: Ciudad Juárez, in the State of Chihuahua. In this town, located in the northern most city of Mexico which borders the Diocese of El Paso in the United States, three meetings are scheduled to take place: one with inmates in the state’s largest penitentiary, another with the world of labour, and then in the afternoon the Pope will meet, among others, victims of violence and the families of desaparecidos. The Pope will celebrate Mass on a platform situated on the border between Mexico and the United States, an area which seen thousands of immigrants who are searching to travel north. Fifty thousand U.S. faithful are expected to attend the mass from the other side of the border. Before the celebration the Holy Father will place a cross at the border and pray for all migrants. That evening, the Pope will fly back to Rome where he is expected to land at 3:15 pm on Thursday, 18 February.
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