Vatican City, Oct 15, 2016 / 05:11 am (CNA/EWTN News).- After having to postpone the trip earlier this year, because of an over-full schedule for the Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis will travel to Milan on March 25, 2017, the Vatican announced Saturday.
“This visit of the Holy Father is a sign of affection and esteem for the Ambrosian Church, the city of Milan and the whole of Lombardy,” Milan’s Archbishop, Cardinal Angelo Scola, said in a statement about the visit.
“We want to express to the Pope our gratitude because he will come to confirm us in the faith. We live from now on waiting for the Pope in prayer, in preparation for this great gift,” Cardinal Scola said.
The Vatican announced back on Dec. 10, 2015, that due to Pope Francis’ busy schedule during the Jubilee of Mercy he had decided to postpone his May 7, 2016 visit to the Archdiocese of Milan until the following year.
A Dec. 10 communique from the Vatican announced that Cardinal Scola received a note from the Secretariat of State saying that due to “the intensification of the Jubilee commitments,” Pope Francis has decided “to postpone his pastoral visits in Italy.”
“As a result, the visit to Milan already officially scheduled and announced for May 7, 2016, will be postponed until the year 2017.”
In the coming days the Milan Bishops’ Council will begin organizational work to set up and coordinate a special commission for the Pope’s visit.
Cardinal Scola informally announced the Pope’s visit to Milan in an Oct. 27 communique posted on the diocese’s website, after first making it known during a meeting with Lebanese Maronite Patriarch Béchara Boutros Raï earlier that morning.
Milan is the second largest city in Italy, and serves as the capital of the country’s northern Lombardy region. The last Pope to visit Milan was Benedict XVI in 2012, when he traveled to the diocese June 1-3 for the 7th World Meeting of Families.
Pope Francis officially inaugurated the Jubilee Dec. 8 on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception by opening the Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica. It will close Nov. 20, 2016, the Solemnity of Christ the King.