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Lenten retreat, Easter and double canonisation for Francis

Pope has busy schedule in March and April

27 February, 13:47
Lenten retreat, Easter and double canonisation for Francis (ANSA) - Vatican City, February 27 - March and April promise to be busy months for Pope Francis with a Lenten spiritual retreat near Rome, Holy Week and Easter celebrations and the canonisation of popes John XXIII and John Paul II, the Vatican said Thursday. The Argentine pontiff will mark the start of the 40-day period of prayer and fasting leading up to Holy Week on March 5 with an Ash Wednesday service at Rome's S. Sabina basilica on the Aventine hill.

He will then travel to a retreat centre in Ariccia in the Alban hills on March 9 for five days to perform spiritual exercises together with other members of the Vatican government or Curia. On April 13 Francis will be at St Peter's basilica for a Palm Sunday celebration marking the start of Holy Week.

The following Thursday he is expected to perform the ritual washing of the feet, although it is not yet known where. Last year the then newly elected pope performed the traditional Maundy Thursday rite at a juvenile prison in Rome in an early demonstration of his concern for marginalised people and his human touch. On Friday April 18 Francis will be at the Colosseum to perform the traditional Via Crucis before returning to St Peter's basilica to celebrate the Easter Vigil and Easter masses respectively on April 19 and 20. The following Sunday, April 27, the pope will canonise his predecessors John and John Paul in St Peter's square in an event that is expected to draw several million pilgrims from all over Italy and beyond.