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Vatican releases Pope’s Lenten schedule

Pope Francis (CNS)

Pope Francis’s calendar of liturgical services for March and April — including Holy Week and Easter — includes the addition of a Lenten “penitential service,” but does not say where he will celebrate the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper.

Last year, Pope Francis moved the Holy Thursday evening Mass and foot washing ritual from St Peter’s Basilica to Rome’s Casal del Marmo juvenile detention centre where he washed the feet of young offenders.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said the Pope once again will choose a “special situation from a pastoral point of view” for the setting of his Holy Thursday Mass. The location will be announced later, but it will not be a Mass open to the public, he said.

Passionist Father Ciro Benedettini, vice director of the Vatican press office, said he had no details regarding the penitential service Pope Francis is scheduled to lead the evening of March 28 in St Peter’s Basilica. In anticipation of the local celebration of World Youth Day in 2008, Benedict XVI had held a Lenten penitential service with the youth of Rome.

The calendar released by the Vatican today included:

— March 5: Ash Wednesday procession from Rome’s Basilica of St Anselm to the Basilica of Santa Sabina for Mass and the imposition of ashes.

— March 9-14: Lenten retreat with officials from the Roman Curia in Ariccia, outside Rome.

— March 16: Evening visit to Rome’s Santa Maria dell’Orazione parish for Mass and meetings.

— March 28: Penitential liturgy in St Peter’s Basilica.

— April 6: Pastoral visit to an unnamed Rome parish.

— April 13: Palm Sunday Mass in St Peter’s Square.

— April 17: Holy Thursday, morning chrism Mass in St Peter’s Basilica.

— April 18: Good Friday afternoon liturgy of the Lord’s Passion in St Peter’s Basilica. Nighttime Way of the Cross in Rome’s Colosseum.

— April 19: Easter vigil at 8.30pm in St Peter’s Basilica.

— April 20: Easter morning Mass in St Peter’s Square, followed by the papal blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world).

— April 27: Canonisation of Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II in St Peter’s Square.