ROME — The Vatican released Pope Francis’s liturgical schedule for March and April, including Holy Week and Easter.
The schedule includes a special Mass April 8 with priests who served as “missionaries of mercy” during the Holy Year of Mercy 2015-2016. More than 1,000 priests received a special mandate from Francis to preach and teach about God’s mercy and be a living sign of God’s welcome to all those in search of his forgiveness during the holy year. The pope has invited the priests back to Rome April 8-11 for moments of sharing and formation.
As usual, the Vatican schedule does not say where the pope will celebrate the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper; normally the location is announced closer to the celebration. Since the start of his pontificate, Francis has celebrated the Holy Thursday Mass and foot-washing ritual with people who are often marginalized, such as prisoners, refugees, the elderly and disabled.
The calendar released by the Vatican Feb. 15 included:
— March 9: Penitential liturgy in St. Peter’s Basilica.
— March 17: Pastoral visit to San Giovanni Rotondo, the town 200 miles southeast of Rome where St. Padre Pio lived and ministered.
— March 25: Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square.
— March 29: Holy Thursday, morning chrism Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.
— March 30: Good Friday afternoon liturgy of the Lord’s Passion in St. Peter’s Basilica. Nighttime Way of the Cross at Rome’s Colosseum.
— March 31: Easter vigil at 8:30 p.m. in St. Peter’s Basilica.
— April 1: Easter morning Mass in St. Peter’s Square, followed by the papal blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world).
— April 8: Divine Mercy Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square concelebrated with “missionaries of mercy.”