Pope Francis to travel to Marseille in September

The Holy See Press Office releases the schedule of Pope Francis' visit to the French port city at the conclusion the “Rencontres Méditerranéennes” hosted by the Archdiocese in September.

Jul 31, 2023

The port city of Marseille in France

By Lisa Zengarini
Pope Francis is to travel for a two-day visit to the southern French city of Marseille in September, to close the “Mediterranean Meetings” (Rencontres Méditerranéennes), which will gather bishops and young people from the Mediterranean basin on 17-24 September.

The visit will mark his 44th Apostolic Journey abroad.

The programme of the visit
According to the schedule released by the Holy See Press Office on Saturday, 29 July, Pope Francis will depart from Rome’s Fiumicino Airport early in the afternoon of Friday, 22 September, arriving at Marseille International Airport at 4.15 pm. There he will be welcomed by the President of the Republic Emmanuel Macron.

At 5.15 pm he will then preside over a marian prayer with the diocesan clergy in the Basilica of “Notre Dame de la Garde”, followed by a moment of reflection with religious leaders near the Memorial dedicated to sailors and migrants lost at sea.

Saturday, 23 September, will start at 8.45 am with a private meeting with people experiencing economic hardship at the Archbishop’s residence.

Pope Francis  will then address the final session of the “Rencontres Méditerranéennes” at the “Palais du Pharo”, where he will also meet with President Macron.

In the afternoon, the Pope is scheduled to preside over Holy Mass  at the “Vélodrome Stadium”  before departing from Marseille's International Airport to Rome, where he is scheduled to arrive at 8.50 pm.

First Pope to visit Marseille  since Clement VII in 1533
Marseille is the second French city visited by Pope Francis during his pontificate.  On 25 November 2014 he made a mere day trip to Strasbourg, in north-eastern France, to address the European Parliament and the Council of Europe.

He will also be the first Pope to visit the multi-ethnic southern French port city since Clement VII did so in 1533.

The "Rencontres Méditerranéennes"
The Mediterranean Meetings are organized and hosted by the Archdiocese of Marseille at the behest of its archbishop, Cardinal Jean-Marc Avelin, following the“Mediterranean, Frontier of Peace” meetings held in 2020 and 2022 in the  cities of Bari and  Florence respectively . 

The two gatherings, promoted by the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI), brought together bishops (as well as mayors in Florence), of several countries bordering the Mediterranean to highlight the need for peace and fraternity in the vast sea region, a crossroads of peoples, religions, languages and cultures now facing new epochal challenges.

Likewise, the Rencontres Méditerranéennes will gather Catholic bishops and young people of different Christian denominations and religions from the 30 Mediterranean countries to launch a message of hope and dialogue, responding to Pope Francis' call for a culture of encounter.

A continuation of Pope Francis' "Mediterranean pilgrimage"
Commenting on the planned Papal visit, Cardinal Avelin said to Vatican News that by coming to Marseille Pope Francis continues the “Mediterranean pilgrimage” he started in Lampedusa in July 2013, followed by his Apostolic Journeys to several Mediterranean cities including Jerusalem, Cyprus, Rabat, Malta, Tirana, Sarajevo, Cairo, amongst others.

In these visits, the Pope has brought a message of hope and has repeatedly pleaded for making the Mediterranean Sea not “a cemetery”,  but rather a place of encounter, dialogue and mutual welcome.

“As Pastor of the Universal Church, but also as Bishop of Rome, with these journeys, the Pope shows his particular attention to the peoples of the Mediterranean”,  Cardinal Avelin said.  “He comes to Marseille to draw our attention to the Mediterranean, the challenges it has to face, the resources it has, and the mission that belongs to Christ's disciples in this region of the world”.--Vatican News

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