The Press Office of the Holy See was the scene on Thursday morning for a conference featuring the President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, who presented the final major celebrations associated with the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy at the Vatican: the Jubilee for Prisoners on 5 and 6 November; and the Jubilee for the Socially Excluded from 11 – 13 November.
Each particular Jubilee celebration will culminate with Mass in Saint Peter’s Square.
The Jubilee for Prisoners will involve a contingent of persons currently serving penal sentences in Spain, along with persons of several different nationalities currently incarcerated in Italy, as well as hundreds of people either released on parole or who have served their sentences and are working to rejoin society. Over one thousand people either currently serving time or who have served time in prison are expected to take part in the Jubilee in Rome, according to official estimates from the Council for New Evangelization.
On Saturday, participants will have the opportunity to avail of the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the Jubilee churches and make the pilgrimage to the Holy Door of Saint Peter’s Basilica.
Mass with the Holy Father is scheduled to begin at 10.00am on Sunday, following an hour-long series of testimonies given by four people whose lives have been changed through the experience of crime and punishment: a prisoner who has experienced conversion, who will speak with the victim with whom he is reconciled; the brother of a victim of a deadly crime who has become the instrument of mercy and forgiveness; a minor who is serving his sentence; and an agent of the Penitentiary Police, who has daily contact with inmates.
“We will listen to their life experience,” explained Archbishop Fisichella, “and we will understand that the theme of mercy is not a theoretical word, but a genuine daily action that often represents a real existential challenge.”
The following weekend, beginning on Friday 11 November and concluding on Sunday 13 November, the Church will mark the Jubilee of Socially Excluded Persons: for anyone and everyone who, due to reasons ranging from economic precariousness to disease, loneliness, or lack of family ties, have difficulties and often remain at the margins of society, without a home or a place to live.
“People,” said Archbishop Fisichella, “we meet every day, people our eyes do not want to see, and from whom we look away.”
The approximately six thousand expected participants come from different countries: France, Germany, Portugal, England, Spain, Poland, Netherlands, Italy, Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia and Switzerland. The organization started by the French organization Lazare, founded by Etienne Villemain.
Participants will have an intense jubilee program: Friday at 11:30am, in the Paul VI Hall, they are scheduled to meet Pope Francis, who will listen to some of their testimonies and at the end will meet with them. In cdifferent churches throughout the city there will be the opportunity to hear testimony on Saturday 10.00am. The churches are: San Salvatore in Lauro for the English language; Santa Monica for Dutch, St. Louis of France for Portuguese; XII Apostles for French; St. John the Baptist of the Florentines for Polish; Santa Maria in Vallicella (Chiesa Nuova) for German; Santa Maria sopra Minerva for Italian; Sant’Andrea della Valle for Spanish and Santa Maria Maddalena in the Campus Martius for Slovak.
Saturday afternoon at 5.00pm, there will be a Vigil of Mercy in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, which is to be preceded by a brief pilgrimage to the Basilica’s Holy Door, starting from the front gardens.
On Sunday, the Holy Father will preside at a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at 10.00am, following which he will lead all the faithful in the recitation of the Angelusprayer.
Sunday, 13 November, is also to be the closing of the Door of Mercy in all the churches and shrines throughout the world, including in the three Papal Basilicas: at St. Paul Outside the Walls, at 5.00pm; at St. John Lateran, at 5:30pm; at Saint Mary Major 6.00.
“We are confident,” concluded Archbishop Fisichella, “that these two Jubilee events will be experienced with the same intensity and experience of prayer with which we have seen the entire Jubilee celebrated.”
That enthusiasm was on display on 22 October, when an extraordinary crowd of ninety three thousand people participated – the highest number yet for a Jubilee Audience, Archbishop Fisichella told reporters – in the Extraordinary Jubilee Audience held once each month on a Saturday during the Jubilee Year.
The official website of the Jubilee of Mercy estimates that 19,797,652 people have participated in the Jubilee of Mercy in Rome up to the end of October 2016.