As you know, Pope Francis travels to Brazil on July 22nd for the 28th World Youth Day, returning to Rome on the 29th. His schedule in Brazil has been published and we’ll have ample time to review that before his departure, as well as follow events on EWTN television during the trip itself – and that schedule is on our web page.

I won’t be in Rio but EWTN is sending a great team and the television coverage will be marvelous, as past youth days have shown. My experience in 2011 when I spent nine days in Madrid for WYD was that these special days with so many young people gathering from around the world to be with each other, to reinforce their faith and to merely be in the presence of the Holy Father is an experience not only for the young but for the young at heart – so you won’t want to miss a second!

In the meantime, the Vatican has released two pieces of news regarding WYD, one about the plenary indulgence that is being offered for World Youth Day, and the second about an art exhibit that opened in Rio yesterday and will continue until October 12.

There are many reasons to keep our eyes and ears open during the Rio de Janeiro youth day, not the least of which might be the announcement of the date for the canonizations of Blesseds Pope John Paul and John XXIII. The Vatican announced on July 5 that a second miracle had been approved for John Paul, thus moving him closer to sainthood, and that Blessed John XXIII, the “Good Pope” as he was nicknamed, will also be canonized in the future, notwithstanding lack of a second miracle.

However, the Vatican that day did not announce – as it has done in the past – the date of the ceremony. There were indications a consistory of the College of Cardinals would be called but not even that date was given, so right now it is only speculation.

I speculated a few weeks back that the approval of a miracle for John Paul might be announced during World Youth Day, an important event founded by the beloved late pontiff. We now know the miracle has been okayed…so perhaps WYD still holds the announcement of the date of the canonization.

As we say so often – stay tuned!


According to a decree published July 9, signed by Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro and Bishop Krzysztof Nykiel, respectively penitentiary major and regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary, Pope Francis will grant an Indulgence to the faithful participating in celebrations for the 28th World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from 22 to 29 July on the theme “Go and make disciples of all nations.”

The Apostolic Penitentiary is the Vatican tribunal that deals with matters pertaining to the Internal Forum, to the sacrament of reconciliation and to penance.

The decree states that the young people and faithful who are adequately prepared will obtain the Plenary Indulgence once a day under the usual conditions (sacramental Confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer in accordance with the intentions of the Holy Father), applicable also to the souls of deceased faithful.

The faithful who on account of a legitimate impediment cannot attend the aforementioned celebrations may obtain the Plenary Indulgence under the usual spiritual, sacramental and prayer conditions, in a spirit of filial submission to the Roman Pontiff, by participation in the sacred functions on the days indicated, following the same rites and spiritual exercises as they occur via television or radio or, with due devotion, via the new means of social communication.

A Partial Indulgence will be conceded to all the faithful who, in any place, and during the indicated days, “with a contrite heart raise devout prayers to God, concluding with the official prayer of the World Youth Day and invoking the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Brazil, with the title “Nossa Senhora da Conceicao Aparecida” as well as other patrons and intercessors of the same meeting, that they may encourage the young to reinforce their faith and lead a holy life.”


An art exhibit entitled “In the Footsteps of the Lord” opened July 9 in Rio de Janeiro and will accompany the 28th World Youth Day, remaining open to the public until October 12. The exhibit was organised by the John Paul II Youth Foundation of the Pontifical Council for the Laity and will be held in the Museu Nacional de Belas Artes in Brazil’s capital city.

The exhibit presents a series of works, objets d’art and manuscripts grouped into four sections: “Christ, the way of Salvation,” “Vocation and mission of the Apostles,” “Mary, the road leading to Christ,” and “The saints: models to emulate.” Each section has been inspired by the World Youth Day theme, “Go and make disciples of all nations.”

“Christ, the way of Salvation, includes works on the life, passion and resurrection of Jesus, Thomas’ disbelief, and the parables of the adulteress and the good Samaritan, as well as an important section dedicated to the image of Christ. The exhibition opens with the celebrated Mandylion of Edessa, venerated as an acheiropoieta, an image made not by human hands, regarded as a true image of the Savior. The are prestigious works by, among others, Beato Angelico, Melozzo da Forli, Leonardo da Vinci, Bernini, Correggio, Guercino and Lorenzo Lotto, whose “Christ and the Adulteress” was recently restored by the Vatican Museums. The Christological image of the Turin Shroud will also be displayed in the form of the photograph taken by Secondo Pia in 1898.

The works linked to “Vocation and mission of the Apostles,” such as the diptych of St. Peter and St. Paul rom the third and fourth centuries, are on loan from the Vatican Museums.

The section dedicated to “Mary, the road leading to Christ” juxtaposes works from both Eastern and Western traditions: Byzantine icons are displayed alongside Pinturicchio’s celebrated “Madonna of the Window-Sill” and works by Michelangelo, Sassoferrato and Perugino.

Finally, the fourth section consists of depictions of the most renowned saints.


As Bishop Baker and I were having lunch Sunday with the Franciscan brothers and fathers of the shrine of St. Francis of Assisi, I remarked on the size and simple beauty of their refectory and asked if Pope Francis was scheduled to eat here during his October 4 visit. I was told that a myriad of details were still being worked out for that visit three months down the road, but the Franciscans obviously hope the Holy Father will break bread with them, as Bishop Baker and I did Sunday.

The Franciscans began to gather at 1 pm for lunch.

I walked towards the center of the dining room to take this photo of the huge fresco that shows St. Francis giving the Pope his petition to found a new order.

One of the images above the lights on the side walls (I neglected to ask who the people were in the paintings).

Midway in the refectory, I took this photo of the painting at the far end of the dining room. The entire room seemed the length of a football field to me – I don’t know the length but I do know that several hundred Franciscans can be seated here, should the need arise, though at the moment, if I remember what Fr. Julian told me, about 80 reside in Assisi.

I did learn that papal quarters are always ready at the shrine for the Pope as this is one of three residences for a pontiff, in addition to Vatican City and Castelgandolfo.

Fr. Enzo Fortunato, editor of the magazine “Francesco Patrono d’Italia,” joined us for lunch, sitting next to Fr. Martin on my right. Fr. Enzo’s name sounded familiar and, as he spoke, I remembered doing a story for this column on May 2 when he was at the Vatican with Fathers Marco Tasca, Minister General of the Friars Minor Conventual, and Mauro Gambetti, guardian of the Sacred Convent of Assisi, in an audience with Pope Francis.

Via a tablet, the Fathers showed the Pope the just-inaugurated live webcam set up by the Franciscans at the tomb of St. Francis. They showed the Pope how to make a prayer request on the tablet and he obliged by writing. “O Francis of Assisi, intercede for peace in our hearts.”

Fr. Enzo said Pope Francis told them he wanted to visited everything there was to visit in Assisi during his October 4 trip, and they replied that, if that was the case, he would have to spend the night in the papal quarters!

Logistics are being worked out by the Franciscans and the Vatican for the papal visit, in particular the venue for the Mass, as they expect an immense crowd from Assisi and neighboring towns and cities, small and large.

After lunch Fathers Julian and Martin accompanied Bishop Baker and me to the portico of the basilica of St. Francis. We were both awed and honoured. Fr. Martin, an American, took these photos (and many, many more) as well as the video at the end of this column.

A Kodak moment:

Fr. Julian explains some landmarks to Bishop Baker:

Taking a video with my iPad.

Another Kodak moment:

I was thrilled to pieces to visit a place rarely open to visitors! And I could not get enough of the vista!

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