In rare move, Pope Francis to publicly celebrate 20 marriages

The Vatican has released the schedule of Pope Francis’ main liturgical celebrations for the month of September, during which he will publicly perform the marriage of 20 couples.
September brings a full slate of activities for the pontiff, including the commemoration of lives lost in WWI, an audience with elderly, a day trip to Albania and the celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage with couples in St. Peter’s Basilica.
On Saturday, Sept. 13, Pope Francis will travel to the Northern Italian region of Friuli-Venezia- Giulia, where he will visit the famous World War I military cemetery in Redipuglia and pay homage to the 100 thousand soldiers who are buried there by celebrating a solemn Mass.
The largest of its kind, the memorial is composed of a large stone staircase and is known for its vast size. It was inaugurated in 1938 following 3 years of construction.
Sept. 14, the next day, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s basilica for the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, during which he will witness the Sacrament of Marriage of 20 couples.
He will be the first pontiff to perform public weddings since St. John Paul II in 1994 in Mexico for the World Day of Families.
The event is significant as popes don’t usually celebrate weddings in public. Pope Francis has also decided to organize the event in direct collaboration with diocese of Rome rather than Pontifical Council for Families, as is usually done, and it is expected that he will perform more in the future.
On Sept. 21 the Bishop of Rome will make a one-day trip to Albania, during which he is slated to meet with the country’s president, civil authorities, interreligious leaders, priests, religious and lay movements of the diocese, as well as children from their the “Centro Betania,” or “Bethany Center” and representatives from other charitable institutions.
Announced earlier this summer, the trip marks the second time a Roman Pontiff will visit the country, the first being Pope Saint John Paul II in 1993.
The next week, on Sept. 28, the pope will close the month by meeting with elderly and grandparents in St. Peter’s Square, celebrating a Mass for them.
Entitled “The Blessing of a Long Life,” the event will begin when the square opens at 7:30 a.m., with the official celebration beginning at 9 a.m. The day will culminate with an audience and Mass at 10:30 presided over by Pope Francis.
As the first-ever official papal audience of its kind, the event is being organized by the Pontifical Council for the Family, and is set to explore the vocation of the elderly in a society whose life span is extending.

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