(Vatican Radio) The Vatican’s Office of Liturgical Celebrations has confirmed that Pope Francis will celebrate Holy Mass in St. Peter’s Square this Sunday, 28 September at 10:30 a.m. for grandparents and the elderly. The Pontifical Council for the Family says more than fifty elderly priests from parishes around the world will concelebrate the liturgy with the Holy Father. The main concelebrants will include the oldest priest of the Rome diocese, and one elderly priest each from the Democratic Republic of Congo, India and Argentina.
More than 40 thousand seniors and grandparents from more than 20 countries – many from Italy, Spain, Argentina and the United States - will participate in the morning’s liturgy. The Mass will be preceded from 8:30 to 9:30 by the event, "The blessing of a long life,” in preparation for their meeting with Pope Francis. The hour-long event will feature testimonials from seniors and reflections on five episodes from the Bible. An elderly priest is expected to make a presentation - using only ten verbs – alluding to the profound meaning of aging and old age.
Tying together these testimonials will be the popular Italian children’s fairytale elf: Gipo.
The five biblical passages were chosen because they raise issues of concern to the world’s elderly today. The figure of Sara: the alleged uselessness / sterility of the elderly; the figures of Naomi and Ruth: the abandonment of a mother-in-law by her daughter-in-law, and the story of Eleazar: the responsibility each elder has towards the younger generation and for the transmission of the faith. The last Scripture passages come from the New Testament: the stories of Zechariah / Elizabeth and Simeon / Anna will present to today’s seniors a twofold reflection on aging together in fulfilment of God’s will, and on the zealous expression of gratitude for a lifetime dedicated to the Lord.
Among those attending Sunday’s events: an elderly couple of Iraqi refugees from Qaraqosh (of the Diocese of Mosul) who will greet the Pope, bringing with them the voice of the many elderly people who are suffering in conflict zones.
Pope Francis will be welcomed with a live performance by Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli.