Pope Benedict’s visit to France confirmed by the Vatican


Vatican City, Jul 4, 2008 - The Vatican released Pope Benedict XVI's official schedule today for the visit he will make to France in September to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes.

The Holy Father's trip, which will last from September 12-15 will involve meetings with civil authorities, leaders of the Jewish community, contributors to the world of culture, priests and other clergy, the sick and the youth.

His schedule is as follows:

Friday, September 12

Depart from Rome's Fiumicino airport at 9:00 a.m.

Arrive at Orly airport in Paris at 11:00 a.m.

Welcome ceremony and courtesy visit to Nicolas Sarkozy, president of France, 12:25 p.m. at the Elysee Palace, followed by a meeting with the authorities of State to whom the Pope will deliver a discourse at 1:00 p.m.

Meeting with delegates from the local Jewish community at the apostolic nunciature in Paris at 5:00 p.m.

At 5:30 p.m. he will travel to the city's College des Bernardins where he will encounter representatives from the world of culture.

At 7:15 p.m. he will preside at Vespers in the cathedral of Notre- Dame with priests, religious, seminarians and deacons, and at 8:30 p.m. greet young people gathered in front of the building.

Saturday, September 13

The Holy Father will make a brief visit to the Institut de France at 9:10 a.m.
He will 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, at 6:30 p.m., he will visit the church of the Sacred Heart and the Cachot (house of the Soubirous family), then proceed to the Grotto at 7:15p.m.

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

Sunday, September 14

At 10:00 a.m. the Pope will celebrate Mass on the Meadow in Lourdes for the 150th anniversary of the apparitions, and then pray the Angelus.

At 5:15 p.m. he is due to meet with French bishops in the Hemicycle Sainte-Bernadette and, an hour later, he will address participants in a Eucharistic procession on the Meadow.

Monday, September 15

At 8:45 a.m. on 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 at 9:30 a.m.

His departure ceremony is due to take place at 12:30 p.m. in the airport of Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrenees and the Pope's plane is scheduled to arrive at Rome's Ciampino airport at 5:15 p.m.