On Friday, September 22, 2023, the Pope's apostolic journey to Marseille will begin. The meetings on that day will include a Marian prayer with the diocesan clergy at the Basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde and a prayer with religious leaders at the Memorial dedicated to the deceased in the sea.
On Saturday, September 23, 2023, the Pope will hold an early morning private meeting with people with financial insufficiency. Afterwards, the Mediterranean Meetings will close with a concluding session at the Palais du Pharo during which the Pope will deliver a speech. The Pope will then meet with French President Emmanuel Macron. This will be the third official meeting between Francis and the President of France.
At 4:15 p.m., Holy Mass will be celebrated at the Stade Velodrome, during which the Pope will deliver his homily in Italian. At 6:45 p.m., the Pope's farewell ceremony will take place at Marseille International Airport in the presence of the French President. The plane will take off from Marseille at 7:15 pm. After a little more than an hour and a half of flight time, the Pope will arrive in Rome, where he is scheduled to land at approximately 8:50 pm.
In total, the Pope will deliver four speeches during his two-day trip to Marseille, all of them in Italian: one at the Marian prayer, another at the meeting with religious leaders, the third at the closing session of the Mediterranean Meetings and, finally, at the Mass on Saturday 23.
Five centuries since the last visit
With this trip, Francis will be the first Pope to visit Marseille in 5 centuries. Only three Popes have visited this city before: Blessed Urban V of Lozère, Gregory XI, who stayed in the city for twelve days (before embarking for Rome), and Clement VII of Florence, who visited the city to celebrate the marriage of Henry II to Catherine de Medici on October 28, 1533, the last time a Pope visited Marseille. What there have been are "future" Popes who have visited Marseille as priests or bishops, as is the case of Karol Wojtyla, the future Saint John Paul II.
Third edition of the "Mediterranean Meetings".
This will be the third edition of the "Mediterranean Encounters" program, which brings together bishops from 29 countries and young people of different nationalities.
The initiative arose from the Italian Episcopal Conference in 2020, with the aim of fostering communion between the communities around the Mediterranean and addressing the challenges facing these regions. In 2020, they were held in Bari, Italy, and in 2022, in Florence.