|The Holy Father paid his first Pastoral
Visit to France, 12 - 15 September 2008, (his tenth Pastoral Visit
outside Italy) on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Blessed
Virgin Mary's apparitions to St. Bernadette in Lourdes.
Father Answers Questions of Journalists
During the flight to Paris, 12 September, France, the Holy Father answered the questions of journalists on the
Papal plane. Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., Director of the Holy
See Press Office, presented the questions to the Pope on the
At Élysée Palace,
After a two-hour flight he
arrived at Paris' Orly International Airport. Upon landing the Pope was
driven to the Apostolic Nunciature in
Paris where he was staying and then to the Élysée Palace for the
welcome ceremony and a courtesy Visit to President Nicolas
Meeting with Jewish
On Friday afternoon, 12 September, the Holy Father met
with representatives of the Jewish Community, some of whom
were introduced to him by Cardinal André
Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris, at the Apostolic
4. On the
Development of Christianity and Culture in Europe
On Friday afternoon, 12 September, the Holy Father was
driven to the College des Bernardins. Seven hundred representatives of
the world of French culture had gathered in the Hall, together with
several UNESCO and EU leaders and several representatives of the Muslim
community in France.
at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, Paris
On Friday evening, 12 September, the Holy
Father went to Paris' famous Cathedral of Notre-Dame to
celebrate Vespers of the Blessed Virgin Mary with the clergy, men and
women religious, seminarians and deacons of France.
to Youth on Cathedral Square
12 September , after presiding at the celebration of Vespers at
the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, the Holy Father greeted thousands of young
people on the Cathedral square, many of whom had taken part in the World
Youth Day in Sydney.
to the Institut de France
On Saturday morning, 13 September, the Holy Father was driven to the "Institut
de France", representative of all the branches of knowledge and home to
five academies. The Pontiff entered the Hall of the "Coupole", where the
members of the five academies had gathered to meet him.
Celebrated on the Esplanade des Invalides
Following his brief visit to
the "Institut de France" [13 September], the Holy
Father went in the Popemobile to the
"Esplanade des Invalides." The Church of Saint
Louis des Invalides is the cathedral of the Military
Ordinary. Here the Holy Father presided at Mass on the Esplanade.
To Pilgrims in
Torchlight Procession at Lourdes
On Saturday afternoon, 13 September, the Holy Father was driven to Paris-Orly International
Airport for his trip to Lourdes. After visiting several sites
associated with St. Bernadette, the Pope watched the torchlight
procession, as it wound through Lourdes from the Grotto of the
Apparitions and across the Prairie to arrive in front of the Basilica
where the the Holy Father awaited them. He then spoke to the pilgrims.
of the Exaltation of the Cross
On Sunday morning, 14 September, the Holy Father went to the Prairie of
Lourdes to preside at Holy Mass for the 150th anniversary of the
apparitions. In his homily, the Pope reflected on the Marian apparitions
and the meaning of the Cross.
Angelus: Mary's Freedom and Purity
On Sunday morning, 14 September, after presiding at Holy Mass on the
Prairie at Lourdes, for the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of Our
Lady, the Holy Father introduced the Angelus with comments on Mary's
purity as a key element opening all hearts to her.
Meeting with French Bishops
On Sunday afternoon, 14 September, the Holy Father went to the Hemicycle
of the Church of St. Bernadette of Lourdes where he met with the French
Bishops, whom he encouraged to work "in full communion with Peter, who
has come in order to strengthen your faith."
Meditation after the
Eucharistic Procession at Lourdes
On Sunday evening, 14 September,
in the Prairie of Lourdes, after meeting with the French Bishops, the
Holy Father, in liturgical vestments, took part from the podium in the
conclusion of the Eucharistic procession. The Pope spoke after adoration
of the Blessed Sacrament.
Mass for the
Sick, Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary
On Monday morning, 15 September, the Pope
was driven to the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, Lourdes, where he presided
at Holy Mass for the sick. The Holy Father
spoke of God's love passing to us through the heart of Mary.
Conclusion of Historic Visit to France
On Monday morning, 15 September, after
the Mass for the sick, the Holy Father went to the Antoine Béguère
Stadium where he embarked on a helicopter to Tarbes-Lourdes
Pyrenees Airport. The Farewell Ceremony took place in the
pavilion of honour where the aircraft was parked.