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Family pilgrimage gathers in St. Peter's Square

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is scheduled to join a rally this evening in St. Peter’s Square, with families gathered in Rome on pilgrimage. Ahead of the celebration, public security officials expect about 200,000 people.

The event will conclude on Sunday with Holy Mass in St. Peter's Basilica presided over by the Pope. Saturday's rally and Sunday's Mass are part of a weekend Family Pilgrimage to the Tomb of St. Peter, organized by the Pontifical Council for the Family. The theme is “Families, live the joy of the faith”. It comes on the heels of the Council’s three-day Plenary Assembly, which concluded yesterday.

Pilgrims began making their way to St. Peter’s early Saturday morning. By 2:30 p.m., tens of thousands of people from about 70 countries—mostly moms, dads, their children and grandparents—had gathered in the square for a rally ahead of the mass.

Several artists and presenters were slated to reflect on the reality of marriage and family life. Some couples were also to offer witness to both the beauty and the disappointments—from raising children as foster parents to marriage breakdown and separation, and then how they lived these struggles in faith.

The schedule for the family pilgrimage on Sunday morning includes recitation of the Rosary in St. Peter’s Square, followed by mass with the Pope and the Angelus.

Young people were invited to participate in a special way. Children sent Pope Francis drawings of their families, and teens submitted songs they wrote to the organizers. The best drawings and songs were featured at the rally.

Pope Francis has taken the family as one of the central themes of his pontificate. He announced earlier this month that next year’s synod of bishops will focus on this theme.

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