VATICAN RETURNS PIECE OF HISTORY TO DUTCH ROYALS – POPE FRANCIS GREETS ROACO ON ITS 90TH PLENARY

VATICAN RETURNS PIECE OF HISTORY TO DUTCH ROYALS

Pope Francis this morning welcomed King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, accompanied by his wife, Queen Máxima, on the penultimate day of their visit to Italy. As is customary with leaders, the sovereigns then met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States.

The papal audience lasted about 35 minutes and, according to the media present at the encounter, was more than amiable as Queen Maximia was born, like Pope Francis, in Buenos Aires, thus the two could converse in their native Spanish

Among the gifts the royals gave to the Holy Father were Dutch tulips, with Queen Maxima noting they would be planted in the Vatican gardens and are good for more than just Easter.

Dutch flowers growers traditionally provide the plants, flowers and shrubs for the Easter Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square.

The Pope gifted the royals a medallion depicting St. Martin of Tours, known for dividing his cloak to give to a poor man. Francis also gave them the customary gift of copies of his environmental encyclical Laudato si, and two Exhortations, “Amoris Laetitia” and “Evangelii Gaudium,” and his Message for the 2017 World Day of Peace.

During the meeting today with the Dutch Royals the Vatican turned over what is known as the baton (stick, also called scepter) of William of Orange. This is a unique icon in the story of the Dutch state and the nation. The baton bears the coat of arms of William of Orange. It is believed there are no other copies.

The baton was given by William of Orange to a Dutch commander who participated in the battle of Mookerheyde 1574. William’s brother, Luigi of Nassau, waved the baton/ scepter during the battle of Mookerheyde as a general of the Dutch insurrectionists. After they lost, the baton came into the hands of a Spanish general and then after having been given to a general of the Jesuits, today, June 22 it was returned into the hands of William Alexander of Orange.

A note from the museum that will host the baton next year said, “the turning over of the baton represents a witness to reconciliation of the current union between the two countries and religions. It is also a symbol of the long paths that the Roman Catholic Church and the kingdom of the Netherlands have traveled on, fom past rivalries and wars, to today’s reciprocal respect and promotion of peace and human rights.

This special relic will be displayed from April 27 to the end of October 2018 at the National Military Museum in Soesterberg in an exhibit on William of Orange.

POPE FRANCIS GREETS ROACO ON ITS 90TH PLENARY

Pope Francis this morning addressed Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches and all those gathered in Rome for the 90th Plenary Session of ROACO (Reunion of Aid Agencies to the Oriental Churches).

He renewed his “gratitude for the work and the constant effort of charity and solidarity guaranteed since 1968 to the Churches, Eastern and Latin, of the territories entrusted to the competence of the Congregation for Oriental Churches: you support the pastoral, educational and welfare activities and help meet their urgent needs, also thanks to the work of the Pontifical Representatives, whom I also have the pleasure of greeting. Through the Custos I greet and bless the Franciscan Friars of the Custody who have started to celebrate the eighth centenary of their presence in the Holy Land.”

Francis noted that,” the Congregation for the Oriental Churches is celebrating its centenary, a long period during which it has assisted the Supreme Pontiffs – who had been Prefects until 1967 – in their solicitude for all the Churches. There have been decades of dramatic events: Eastern Churches have often been overwhelmed by terrible waves of persecution and suffering, both in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Major migrations have weakened its presence in the territories where they had flourished for centuries. Now, thanks to God, some of them have returned to freedom after the painful period of the totalitarian regimes, but others, especially in Syria, Iraq and Egypt, see their children suffer as a result of the ongoing war and the senseless violence perpetrated by fundamentalist terrorism.”

Pope Francis thanked congregation staff and ROACO members for their constant work of charity and solidarity over the past half century in support of Latin and Eastern-rite communities under the care of the Congregation for Oriental Churches.

He highlighted the persecution and emigration suffered by these Churches of the Middle East, as well as in Eastern Europe, saying they have often suffered from “terrible waves of persecution and pain.” Pope Francis said “emigration has also significantly weakened the presence of these Churches in places where they flourished for centuries.” Freedom has now returned to some of those regions, but others, particularly in Syria, Iraq and Egypt, are still devastated by “wars and absurd violence perpetrated by fundamentalist terrorism.” These experiences are a source of both suffering and salvation, he said, as we experience the Cross of Christ.”

The plenary members were reflecting on the current situation in the countries where ROACO is present, and they also reflected on what the Pope called, “the important issue of the initial formation of seminarians and the ongoing formation of priests. We are aware of the radical nature of the choice expressed by many of them, and the heroism of their testimony of dedication alongside their often sorely tried communities. But we are also aware of the temptations that one may encounter, such as the search for a social status attributed to the consecrated in some geographical areas, or a way of exercising the role of guide following criteria of human affirmation or according to patterns of culture and the environment.”

In concluding, the Holy Father said, “And let us not forget that even today in the East, Christians – be they Catholics, Orthodox, or Protestants – shed their blood as a seal of their witness. May oriental believers, if forced to emigrate, be welcomed in the places where they arrive, and continue to live according to their own ecclesial tradition. In this way your work, dear representatives of the Agencies, will be a bridge between the West and the East, both in the countries of origin and in those you yourselves come from.”

IN BRIEF

Don’t forget to tune in to “At Home with Jim and Joy” on Mondays and Thursdays at 2pm ET. I bring some commentary or news from Rome each week to both shows. If you watch EWTN in Europe, the Monday shows airs on Tuesday at 10am and Wednesday at 6 pm. The Thursday show airs Friday at 10 and Saturday at 6 pm.

IN BRIEF

VATICAN WELCOMES THREE NEW SYRIAN FAMILIES. They have found shelter and welcome in the Vatican as part of an ongoing effort to provide the means and the tools for integration and a new life of hope for those fleeing conflict and persecution. All told, 13 people from two Christian families and one Muslim family have been able make their homes in three Vatican-owned apartments recently vacated by other refugees who have since moved on to more permanent situations. Two of the families fled violence and discrimination because of their Christian faith. They arrived in Italy in March. The refugees hosted in the Vatican have all been able to travel safely to Italy thanks to the “humanitarian corridor” project promoted by the Community of Sant’Egidio, the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy and the Waldesian Table. (http://www.news.va/en/news/the-vatican-welcomes-new-refugee-families-from-syr)

POPE SAYS IT IS TIME TO END “WORSENING TRAGEDY OF CHILD trafficking and slavery. He said this in a Message sent Monday to a Vienna “Trafficking in Persons” conference. The Pope’s words came in a message read out by Fr. Michael Czerny, SJ, under-secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. He was in Vienna at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)’s “17th Alliance against Trafficking in Persons Conference.” In hisMessage, Pope Francis spoke about the goal of prevention: “It should be acknowledged that very little has been done to address the “why” of many young people being tricked or sold into trafficking and slavery.” He said, “Demand and supply, in turn, are deeply rooted in the three great issues of conflicts and wars, economic privation and natural disasters, or what the victims experience as extreme poverty, underdevelopment, exclusion, unemployment and lack of access to education.” Protection against human trafficking, the Pope said, begins with protection of the family. (http://www.news.va/en/news/popes-message-to-osce-human-trafficking-conference): Click here to read the full text of Pope Francis’ message to the OSCE Conference.

CARDINAL LEONARDO SANDRI URGES GENEROSITY FOR ANNUAL GOOD FRIDAY COLLECTION. The cardinal, who heads the Congregation for Oriental Churches, called on Catholics to be generous in their supòport of projects in the Holy Land. In an interview with SIR, the news agency of the Italian Bishops Conference the cardinal talks about the importance of contributing to the upkeep of the sacred sites, while at the same time supporting the search for peace in the land where Jesus lived. Faced with the events that “take place in this troubled region of the world”, the cardinal says, there is a risk that we see them as unconnected to our own lives, “as if we had no responsibility.”  (http://www.news.va/en/news/card-sandri-on-good-friday-collection-for-the-holy)

Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

VATICAN INSIDER: LEARN ABOUT THE NAPA INSTITUTE WITH JOHN MEYER – 60,000 IN ROME TO CELEBRATE JUBILEE FOR YOUNG BOYS AND GIRLS – SPECIAL COLLECTION SUNDAY IN EUROPE’S CHURCHES FOR UKRAINE – HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE UPDATES SITUATION IN UKRAINE

VATICAN INSIDER: LEARN ABOUT THE NAPA INSTITUTE WITH JOHN MEYER

My guest on “Vatican Insider” this week in the interview segment is John Meyer, executive director of the California-based Napa Institute. This was founded in 2010 to help Catholic leaders face the challenges posed in what the Institute calls the “next America” and to heed Christ’s call for ongoing evangelization. John is a native of Illinois, but lives now in Irvine, California. We met in Rome at a conference that Institute members were attending at the Pontifical Holy Cross University.

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Among its goals, says the Napa Institute on its website are: 1) Deepening the knowledge of Catholic leaders in the teachings of the Church so they can evangelize others and defend their faith in secular society; 2) Encouraging religious freedom throughout our hemisphere; 3) Inspiring Catholic leaders to a better stewardship of their time, treasure, and talents.

AN UPDATE ON LISTENING TO VATICAN INSIDER: As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00 am (Eastern time). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. Check for your time zone. Past shows are in VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

60,000 IN ROME TO CELEBRATE JUBILEE FOR YOUNG BOYS AND GIRLS

More than 60,000 adolescents from all over the world will be in Rome from April 23 to 25 to participate in the Jubilee for Young Boys and Girls on the theme “Merciful Like the Father.” The Jubilee consists of three days of prayer, confession and pilgrimage to the Holy Door, as well as celebration and sharing in the Year of Mercy, according to a press release from the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization.

Saturday, April 23, will start with a pilgrimage to the Holy Door, beginning with a procession from Castel Sant’Angelo along Via della Conciliazione up to St. Peter’s Square. The Bernini Colonnade will thus be transformed into the Father’s “embrace” that the young boys and girls may experience with the help of more than 150 priests who will be present continuously, in alternation, from 9.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. to administer the Sacrament of Reconciliation in various languages.

In the afternoon, following the Jubilee itinerary inside the Basilica, which will conclude with the profession of faith at the Tomb of St. Peter, the young people will transfer to the Olympic Stadium for a large celebration with music and testimonies, beginning at 8.30 p.m., with the participation of personalities from the worlds of cinema, sport and astronomy.

On Sunday, April 24 Mass will be celebrated by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square, the culmination of this major Jubilee event. The day will continue with a visit to Mercy marquees set up for the occasion of this pilgrimage in seven squares throughout the centre of Rome (San Silvestro, Piazza di Spagna, San Salvatore in Lauro, Santa Maria in Trastevere, Santa Maria in Vallicella-Chiesa Nuova, Piazza Pia in Castel Sant’Angelo, and the area of the Pincio Terrace), in which, from Saturday to Monday, pilgrims and citizens of Rome may hear testimonies of works of spiritual and corporal mercy.

SPECIAL COLLECTION SUNDAY IN EUROPE’S CHURCHES FOR UKRAINE

(Vatican Radio) – The Congregation for the Oriental Churches on Friday released a press statement, expressing support for the extraordinary collection to take place this Sunday in churches across Europe for the people suffering from the war in Ukraine. (Congregation prefect, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri presiding at Mass)

ORIENTAL CHURCHES

During his Regina Coeli address on April 3, Pope Francis announced a special charity collection to support the people of Ukraine, telling the faithful it would be possible to contribute to the collection in all Catholic Churches in Europe on Sunday, April 24. He renewed his appeal during his weekly General Audience on Wednesday, April 20.

In its statement, the Oriental Dicastery invites all people ‘to contribute generously so as to assure assistance to those people most weakened in body and spirit by violence’. It also recognizes the solidarity and material aid of many Dioceses and charitable organisations.

The statement goes on to list the many fruits of this charitable act.

“May the renewed gesture of charity which Pope Francis has asked of the Churches of Europe be again a sign of the brotherhood which unites us to our brothers and sisters in Ukraine, who are often forgotten as are many painful situations in the world. May the expression of closeness by many people be like a little lantern which reignites hope in those wounded hearts; may it help all the Pastors of the Christian Churches console and cure the pain of their own faithful; and may it force those who carry the fates of peoples to promote respect for human rights and peace.”

The statement concludes with a short prayer to the Holy Mother of God for all the people of Europe.

‘To the Most Holy Mother of God, ‘the Door of Mercy’ who watched over the opening of the Jubilee Year in St. Peter’s Square, may she watch over Europe and inspire with her prayer the desire for reconciliation and a renewed capacity to know how to live together as brothers and sisters.’

HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE UPDATES SITUATION IN UKRAINE

On the eve of the special collection for Ukraine,, the Holy See Press Office issued a detailed communiqué on the current situation in the country:

“The armed conflict in east Ukraine began in spring 2014 and continues despite the ceasefire of September 2015, claiming victims due mostly to the large amount of mines that have not been removed, and by relentless artillery fire. There have been around 9,000 confirmed deaths, to which disappearances and prisoners, often illegally held, must be added.

“The situation of instability, the unceasing armed threat and the consequent spread of uncontrolled arms groups subject the population to grave hardships, not only in the territories directly affected, but throughout the country. The outlook has worsened as a result of the general economic situation, affected by extreme inflation that has drastically reduced purchasing power; over half a million people are urgently in need of food. There are over 1.5 million displaced persons within the country.

“In the areas most directly affected, the greatest needs are in the health sector, as more than 120 health care centres have been damaged or destroyed. Expectant mothers are at particular risk, and the likelihood of the spread of AIDS and tuberculosis is significant. Anaesthetics are scarce and operations are often carried out without. Where medicines exist (many pharmacies have been closed), the price of medicine has reached prohibitive levels.

“In the regions currently most afflicted by the conflict there currently reside around 3 million people, in conditions of extreme hardship. The majority are elderly people who are unable to leave the combat zone.

“With regard to homes: Between 12,000 and 15,000 houses have been damaged, and more than a thousand completely destroyed. The situation is likely to become critical in view of the very low temperatures expected in autumn and winter.

“Many children are unable to attend school. At least 200,000 children have been evacuated to the regions of Ukraine outside the afflicted areas: one child in four is displaced. Many are affected by grave forms of psychological trauma, due to the violence they have witnessed or experienced; some have even lost the ability to read and write.

“The state of conflict constitutes the principle difficulty in the search for a solution to the humanitarian crisis. In particular, there are limitations on the importation of commercial goods including medicines, as well as enormous difficulties in facilitating the arrival of international aid to the most troubled areas.

“Ukrainian society is reacting by showing its extraordinary capacity for resistance. The best functioning aid network is constituted of religious confessions. These include Catholics who in Ukraine make up around 10 per cent of the population and are a small minority in the most affected area. They are fully mobilized to assist those in need, although their resources are inadequate to face the enormity of the most urgent needs.

“The Holy See is preparing specific interventions for the benefit of the entire population, without discrimination on the basis of religion or confession, in order to confront the humanitarian crisis, especially in the most critical areas. Therefore the mechanisms are in preparation for the gathering and selection of projects to be financed via a specific Commission in loco, responsible for overseeing them; the Pontifical Council ‘Cor Unum’ will approve and evaluate the technical management of the funds, reporting on its activity as appropriate.

 

NEWS IN BRIEF

When you got up today and saw the date, did you say “why does February 11 ring a bell?!” Well, it was exactly three years ago today that Pope Benedict resigned! Does that seem possible?! So many millions still miss him and many millions pray for him daily, as do I. Blessings on you, Holy Father emeritus!

Benedict and Joan

February 11 is traditionally a holiday at the Vatican because Vatican City State became an independent sovereign state after signing a treaty with Italy on February 11, 1929. This year we mark the 87th anniversary of the Lateran Pacts. In addition, the Church annually marks the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and the World Day of the Sick on this date.

Pope Francis is getting ready to leave tomorrow on an apostolic pilgrimage to Mexico, but he made time today for a number of appointments as you will see. As a native Spanish-speaker he surely did not have to spend as much time in recent weeks practicing his language skills for his 6 days in Mexico. He will, however, have spent a lot of time honing diplomatic skills because his first stop tomorrow on the way to Mexico is of huge, dramatic, historic importance because he will meet in Cuba for two hours with Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, the first time leaders of the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox Church have met since the great schism in 1054. The two are expected to sign a Joint Declaration.

Pope Francis is expected to land in Cuba at 2 pm (ET) and meet for two hours with Patriarch Kirill. More on that tomorrow. In the meantime, some highligjts of the day….

NEWS IN BRIEF

POPE FRANCIS THURSDAY MORNING PAID A PRIVATE VISIT to St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome, where – as has become customary – he prayed before the icon of Maria Salus Populi Romani ahead of his Apostolic Voyage to Mexico. From St Mary Major, the Holy Father made the short journey to Rome’s cathedral, St. John Lateran basilica, where the priests of the diocese were meeting at the beginning of Lent. During the visit, Pope Francis heard the confessions of several priests. St. John is the cathedral of the bishop of Rome, Pope Francis. Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar for the diocese of Rome, said the meeting with priests had a “penitential” character, offering the clergy the opportunity “to have an experience of the mercy of the Father; and, in turn, to be able to ministers of mercy in the communities entrusted to us.” As a Lenten “sign,” the offering taken up during the encounter was donated to the diocesan branch of Caritas. Pope Francis offered as a gift to each of the priests of the diocese a copy of his book “The Name of God is Mercy.”

POPE FRANCIS HAS DONATED 500 ROSARIES TO THE DETAINEES in a prison in the Italian city of Padua. Fr. Marco Sanavio, the priest entrusted with delivering the papal gift, had the idea to “more directly”involve prisoners in the “Moment of Peace” (Un’ attimo di pace) initiative launched four years ago on the web in Italy. The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, reports that the request for the rosaries came from Zhang Augustine Jianqing, a young Chinese man currently incarcerated in the Padua prison, who also participated in Rome at the presentation of the book-length interview of Pope Francis by veteran Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli, The Name of God is Mercy.

CARDINAL LEONARDO SANDRI, PREFECT OF THE CONGREGATION FOR ORIENTAL CHURCHES, has sent a letter to the bishops of the world, appealing for aid to the Church in the Holy Land. The letter is dated Ash Wednesday, 2016, and looks forward to the worldwide collection for the Christians of the Holy Land, which is made at Good Friday each year in churches around the globe. The English-language letter starts, “Good Friday is the day when evil seemed to triumph, as the Innocent One suffered death on the Cross. It is a day that never seems to end in the Holy Land, where apparently interminable violence must be endured. Broadening our the gaze to the whole world, it is no less difficult to give wings to hope for a serene future.” The cardinal adds: “The Collection for the Holy Land reminds us of an ‘ancient’ duty, which the history of recent years has made more urgent, but no less a source of the joy that comes from helping our brothers.” Cardinal Sandri explains that, “In this Jubilee year, we are urged more than ever to demonstrate our mercy and solicitude for our brothers in the Middle East. Refugees, displaced persons, the elderly, children, and the sick are all in need of our help. In this land of the East, people are dying, being kidnapped and even killed. Many live in agony for their loved ones, or suffer when the family is divided on account of forced migration and exodus.”

POPE FRANCIS’ SPECIAL ENVOY, ARCHBISHOP ZYGMUNT ZIMOWSKI, celebrated Mass on Thursday in the town of Nazareth in the Holy Land to mark the Church’s World Day of the Sick. The Mass took place in Nazareth’s Basilica of the Annunciation and was the centerpiece of events marking the 2016 World Day of the Sick that is celebrated each year on February 11th, the feast day of St. Bernadette of Lourdes. In his homily at the Mass, Archbishop Zimowski, who is President of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, reminded his listeners that the central theme of Pope’s Francis’ message for this year’s World Day of the Sick is the need for us to entrust our lives to the Merciful Jesus like Mary did.  Archbishop Zimowski said all of us are called in our different ways to help the person who is suffering and stressed we must not be intimidated by the fact that we cannot help in a satisfactory way, in the way that Jesus did. “The important thing,” he said, “is to go, to be at the side of the man who suffers.”

NAZARETH

THE PHILATELIC AND NUMISMATIC OFFICE OF VATICAN CITY STATE has announced that the 2016 Vatican coins will soon be released. These include the 8 usual Euro coins (2 and 1 Euro, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2, 1 euro-cent), bearing the image of Pope Francis, as Sovereign of the Vatican City State. This year, the €20 Silver coin and the €50 Gold coin have images chosen for the Year of Mercy. The Silver coin has an image of Pope Francis embracing a teenager, while the back has an image of the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The Gold coin has an image of the Holy Father opening the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica, while the back has an image of the Jubilee logo, which features Jesus carrying a man – representing humanity – on his shoulders. The Philatelic and Numismatic Office is also releasing a Jubilee of Mercy coin card. (sources for stories: new.va)

VATICAN COINS

GOOD FRIDAY COLLECTION FOR CHURCH IN THE HOLY LAND – KING RICHARD III TO BE RE-INTERED IN LEICESTER CATHEDRAL

Just two news stories for today, one from the Vatican and the second from the Catholic Church in England and Wales – a fascinating bit of news.

GOOD FRIDAY COLLECTION FOR CHURCH IN THE HOLY LAND

(Vatican Radio) Parishes across the world year after year take up the traditional annual Good Friday Collection for the Church in the Holy Land. This year is no different and the prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, has written a letter to all pastors of the Universal Church in which he expresses the gratitude of Pope Francis, of his dicastery and of all the Churches “in the land of Christ” for their attention and generous response to the Collection.

The proceeds from the Good Friday Collection go to the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land. The Franciscans have been caring for the holy sites there since 1209. They also assist the poor, run schools, provide scholarships, and conduct pastoral ministries to keep Christianity alive in the land where it originated.

The Collection is still today the principal source that sustains the life and works of the region’s Christians. It helps Christians of many denominations remain in the region as living witnesses to Christ.

In his appeal to Catholics to donate generously this Good Friday, Cardinal Sandri noted that  “there are millions of refugees fleeing Syria and Iraq, where the roar of arms does not cease and the way of dialogue and concord seems completely lost. … This year presents a still more precious opportunity to become pilgrims of faith after the example of the Holy Father, who in May last year visited this patch of land, so dear to Christians, Jews and Muslims alike. It is a chance to become promoters of dialogue through peace, prayer and sharing of burdens.”

KING RICHARD III TO BE RE-INTERED IN LEICESTER CATHEDRAL

Press statement by the Catholic Diocese of Nottingham:.

On Monday, 23rd March 2015, just three days before Richard III is re-interred in Leicester Cathedral, the mediaeval Catholic parish church of Leicester, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, will celebrate Mass for the repose of his soul in Holy Cross Church, the current Catholic parish church and Dominican priory in Leicester city centre.

In order that as many people as possible can be accommodated safely and the liturgy celebrated in a dignified manner, admission to this Mass will be by ticket only; the ballot for tickets is now closed, and successful applicants will be notified within the next few days.

The following day, Tuesday 24th March, Mass will be offered for the repose of the soul of Richard III in Holy Cross Church by the Dominican friars at 4.00 pm. This Mass will be open to the public, and no tickets are required. After Mass, the friars will process through the city centre to Leicester Cathedral, where they will sing Vespers, the Catholic Church’s evening service, at 5.30 pm.

Msgr. Thomas McGovern, the Diocesan Administrator of the Diocese of Nottingham, said: “We very much look forward to welcoming Cardinal Nichols to Leicester this month for the Mass which he will celebrate in Holy Cross Church in advance of the re-interment of Richard III, one of the last Catholic kings of England, in the city in which he was buried in 1485.”

Father David Rocks, OP, Prior and Parish Priest of Holy Cross Priory, said: “The Dominicans of Holy Cross Priory are looking forward to welcoming people from across the world to our beautiful church during the week when Richard III will be re-interred here in Leicester. More people than we could have ever hoped for have been in touch to ask for tickets for the Mass which Cardinal Nichols will celebrate on Monday 23rd March, which is why we are pleased to announce another celebration of Mass on Tuesday 24th March, before the friars depart for Leicester Cathedral to sing Vespers in the presence of the mortal remains of Richard III. No tickets will be required for this Mass, and everyone is welcome to come along.”