(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is in Mexico on his 12th Apostolic Journey. He was welcomed there to an atmosphere of 'fiesta' on Friday night. On Saturday his schedule includes an encounter with civil society and the diplomatic corps, the bishops of Mexico, and Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Vatican Radio's Veronica Scarisbrick is in Mexico with Pope Francis and sent this report on Saturday's activities.
Listen to the report:
While Pope Francis comes to Mexico to walk with the people he has also begged a chance to pray on his own. You’ll have guessed where. It’s before the image of ‘Our Lady of Guadalupe’ which he says inspires security and tenderness. “She is our mother”, he insists, “who cares, protects and leads a people”.
His request has been granted and on Saturday on the first full day of his Apostolic journey he’ll be shown into a sort of secret room, the ‘camarin’ as they call it, located directly behind the altar of the Basilica of the Shrine which houses this image.
To get to it a sort of mini bank vault has to be unlocked. And for this fleeting occasion the image will be turned towards the Pope rather than towards the congregation gathered there for Holy Mass.
You are probably familiar with this 16th century image of Our Lady framed by a pink almond shaped oval with the rays of the sun all around, wearing a green blue cloak decorated with stars and standing on a crescent moon. The moon being symbolic of Mexico as the word means ‘navel of the moon’. Known as the 'Morenita' she appeared as a 'mestizo', of mixed race, so symbolic of the unity of Mexican people.
Pope Francis makes requests but also courteously accepts invitations. Naturally from the nation’s President Enrique Pena Nieto at the impressive ‘Palacio Nacional’, seat of the federal executive in Mexico.
Located at the heart of Mexico City the building with its stylish colonial red façade overlooks the elegant “Plaza de la Constituciòn” known as ‘El Zòcalo’. Part of the stone used for it was stolen from the original Palace of the Aztec Emperor Moctezuma II, also in the early 16th century.
It is there that on Saturday morning Pope Francis delivers his first speech to the Mexican nation in the presence of civil authorities, civil society and the diplomatic corps.
The second speech is to the Bishops fittingly in the City’s Metropolitan Cathedral of the ‘Assumption’ with its ‘Dona Maria’ bell which pealed for two hours to welcome the Pope to town on Saturday evening. An ornate colonial building which like all of the rest of this capital city sinks into the spongey soil of what was once an azure lake. One which houses a massive gold altar. I mean really massive. That’s why perhaps the ‘guardia federal’ keeps guard inside the precints of the Cathedral.
In Mexico City, I’m Veronica Scarisbrick.