(Vatican Radio)  At the general audience Wednesday, Pope Francis explained that Friday, June 3, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, saying this year “is enriched by the Jubilee for Priests.” He invited “everyone to pray the Heart of Jesus for the entire month of June and to support with closeness and affection your priests so that they always reflect the image of that Heart full of merciful love.”

The Jubilee for Priests falls on the 160th anniversary of the institution of the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus,  introduced in 1856 by Pope Pius IX.

To celebrate their Jubilee in Rome, on Wednesday clergy and seminarians from around the world began the first of three days of prayer and reflection with pilgrimages to the Jubilee churches: S. Salvatore in Lauro, S. Maria in Vallicella (Chiesa Nuova) and S. Giovanni Battista dei Fiorentini.

In a note, the Holy See Press Office said that some 6,000 priests and seminarians “are already present for this Jubilee” in Rome.

Events will provide opportunities for them to reflect and mediate together on the Word of God, to adore the Most Blessed Sacrament, to receive the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, and to make a pilgrimage through the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica.

On Thursday, Pope Francis will offer three meditations for a spiritual retreat on the theme of “the Good Shepherd: the priest as a minister of mercy and compassion, close to his people and servant of all.”


Pope Francis will take part in Thursday’s retreat with stops in the three Papal Basilicas:  St. John Lateran, Saint Mary Major and Saint Paul’s Outside the Walls (10:00, 12:00 noon and 4pm respectively). The basilicas will be connected via video link throughout the day so that priests present can follow the entire day’s meditations.

“The great novelty” of the Jubilee, said the Holy See Press Office, is that, thanks to the Vatican Television Center which will film the event, the public will be able to follow Pope Francis’ meditations for the clergy 2 June on major national and international Catholic television networks and in streaming on the official Jubilee of Mercy website: .  Streamed video will be offered in the original Italian and with simultaneous translations  in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German and Polish.

Among Catholic stations to broadcast the event in the U.S. are EWTN and BCTV.

The Jubilee celebrations will conclude with a Holy Mass presided by the Holy Father on Friday 3 June in St. Peter’s Square.


Pope Francis presided at the weekly general audience in a sunny St. Peter’s Square before tens of thousands of pilgrims on this, the first of three days of celebrations in Rome for the Jubilee of Priests. Countless priests and seminarians attended the Wednesday audience and were spotted afterwards in nearby neighborhoods as they visited churches, browsed in religious goods stores, took photos in and around the basilica or began searching for outdoor restaurants for an early lunch.

Large groups of priests gathered at Castel Sant’Angelo where, under a small white tent, Jubilee pilgrims start the several-block-long procession to and through the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica. A beautiful wood Jubilee cross is given to one person who will lead the procession as the group listens to prayers and reflections.

As some groups approached the square this morning, they may have heard the Pope’s voice over loud speakers as he gave the day’s catechesis. Following is the English language summary of the general catechesis in Italian:

Ag  June 1

“In our continuing catechesis for this Holy Year of Mercy, we now turn to the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Lk 18: 9-14). Jesus contrasts the arrogance and self-righteousness of the Pharisee’s prayer with the tax collector’s humble recognition of his sinfulness and need for the Lord’s mercy.

“True prayer is born of a heart that repents of its faults and failings, yet pleads for the grace to live the great commandment of love of God and neighbor. Indeed, the proud disdain of the Pharisee for the sinner at his side pevents him from being righteous in God’s sight.

“To pray well, then, we need to look into our own hearts and, in humble silence, let the Lord speak to us there. The honesty and humility that God asks of us is the necessary condition for our receiving His mercy.

“The Blessed Virgin Mary is the model of such prayer. In her Magnificat, she tells us that God looks with favor on the humility of His servants, and hears their plea. May she, our Mother, help us to pray as we ought.”