Florence, November 15, 2021 – It’s official: Pope Francis will return to Florence. He’ll be in town on Sunday February 27, on the occasion of the final day of conference of the Italian Episcopal Conference “Mediterranean frontier of peace”, The meeting of the Bishops of all the Churches of the different shores of the mare nostrum, which will open its works on 23 February in all probability in Santa Maria Novella. The good news comes in these minutes: after the invitation from the Apostolic See in recent days, the Holy See has formalized the visit of the Holy Father, hovering to the last due to the pandemic.
To the detriment of his arrival, the trend of the contagion curve played a role and therefore the opportunity or not to move. In that case Pope Francis would have been virtually present and would have made his voice heard through a video message. But it will not be like this: the Holy Father will take part in this appointment in person. That falls in concomitance with the International Conference of Mayors of the Mediterranean. The Conference, which will be entitled “Mediterranean frontier of civilization”, in the wake of the great conferences of La Pira, will bring together 100 mayors from all Mediterranean countries, from all the countries bordering the Mediterranean, from North Africa to the Middle East, from Greece and the Balkans to France and Spain. “The goal – said Mayor Dario Nardella – is to relaunch interest in the Mediterranean area through dialogue between the main cities, promoting concrete cooperation actions, in support of peace, in addition to cultural dialogue, environmental protection, health security, migration policies “.
The scientific committee had met a few days ago at Palazzo Vecchio, in the presence of the cardinal Giuseppe Betori and Antonino Raspanti, one of the vice presidents the. On this occasion, the invitation of the Italian bishops was announced, starting with the president of the CEI, the Mugello cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti and his deputy, the bishop of Fiesole, Mario Meini, together with the metropolitan archbishop, cardinal Giuseppe Betori, who hoped to have Pope Francis in Florence. Now that hope has come true. And it will be a special, and very significant visit, also due to another coincidence: last year, just before the lockdown, the Pope attended the final day of the first edition of ‘Mediterranean frontier of peace’ in Bari. It was February 23, 2020 and the Pope’s lightning trip to Puglia had been the last one before the pandemic, of which we are still suffering the consequences. The hope of the organizers was to be able to replicate the Bari experience. The invitation from the Apostolic See was therefore immediate. After a few days in which the advisability of the Holy Father’s visit was discussed based on the monitoring of the data of the infections, there was no perception of negative elements that could affect his visit. So the city can rejoice: Pope Francis will return to Florence.
The program of the visit
Meanwhile, the press of the The Holy See has released the detailed plan of the visit of Pope Francis in occasion of the Meeting of the Bishops and Mayors of the Mediterranean. At 7 the Pontiff will take off by helicopter from the Vatican, per land at 8 in the “Luigi Ridolfi” athletics stadium privately. At 8.30, at Palazzo Vecchio in the Salone dei Cinquecento, is in program the meeting with the Bishops and Mayors: the greeting of the mayor of Florence Dario Nardella, that of cardinal president of the CEI Gualtiero Bassetti, that of mayor of a capital, hence the Pope’s speech. At 9.30 am, in the Sala d’Arme, the meeting of the Pope will take place with refugee and refugee families (50 people). At 10.30, the mass in the Basilica of Santa Croce. At the end, in the churchyard of the Basilica in Piazza Santa Croce, Francesco will recite l’Angelus. Finally, at 12.30, take off by helicopter from «Luigi Ridolfi» athletics stadium, at
‘landing in Vatican. “The announcement of the Pope’s presence Francesco at the conference of the CEI ‘Mediterraneo frontiera di pace ‘and the contextual international summit of mayors of Mediterraneo, a prelude to a historic event in the name of the mayor holy La Pira ». The mayor of Nardella. And the first time in history», Nardella underlines that in relation to the three days he speaks of “a collective commitment in favor of peace, the environment, the development cooperation, social inclusion. This meeting will culminate in a dialogue with the bishops of the Churches of Mediterranean and in the final meeting with the Pope. A more than half century from the meeting of the capitals and from the dialogues of Mediterraneo promoted by Giorgio La Pira at Palazzo Vecchio, yes will write a new unpublished chapter, this one with presence exceptional of the Holy Father “. «Never as in this period the Mediterranean has known war conflicts, persecutions, civil wars, environmental disasters, mass migration – ha concluded Nardella -. A voice will be raised from Florence in February loud and clear of 100 cities, from Istanbul to Rome to Tunis, for open a new era in the sea where most civilizations are born ancient and the three Abrahamic religious communities. With the city diplomacy and the strength of the Pope we will complete the Lapyrian plan to restore peace to the Mediterranean e prosperity”.
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