Pope Francis will lead Filipinos in Italy in celebrating the 500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines. Scalabrinian Father Ricky Gente of the Filipino Chaplaincy in Rome told CBCP News that the Pope will celebrate Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica at 10 a.m. on March 14.
Due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic restrictions, a limited number of people will be allowed to attend the Mass physically inside the basilica. Gente said the celebration will be livestreamed from the Vatican to reach Filipinos in different parts of the world.
“Join us in Rome to pray, praise and thank God for his gift of the Christian faith,” he said.
The Pontiff will be joined by Filipino Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, the pope’s vicar of Rome.
Gente said the Pope will lead the traditional recitation of the Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square at midday after the Mass.
“You can also receive blessings from the pope after mass in Vatican Square where he will lead the Angelus prayer at noon,” he said.
In the Philippines, most dioceses will launch the year-long commemoration on April 4, Easter Sunday. In 2019, Pope Francis also led the Philippine traditional “Simbang Gabi” Mass with the Filipino community in Rome and acknowledged the role of overseas Filipino workers in the growth of Catholic Church throughout the world.
Italy hosts the largest population of OFWs in Western Europe. In his message after the Mass, the Pope called on Filipinos, especially those who are living abroad, to “continue to be smugglers of the faith”.
When he visited Manila in 2015, he also described how the Philippines is gifted “for it is the foremost Catholic country in Asia”.
“This is itself a special gift of God, a special blessing,” the pope said in his homily during Mass at the Luneta Park.
“But it is also a vocation. Filipinos are called to be outstanding missionaries of the faith in Asia