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Pope set to travel for first time since pandemic began

By Muri Assunção, New York Daily News on

Published in Religious News

Pope Francis is preparing to visit Assisi next month, on his first trip outside Rome since Italy was put in a strict coronavirus lockdown in early March.

On Oct. 3, the day before the Feast of St. Francis, the pope will travel to the small central Italy town to sign a new encyclical, the Vatican announced Saturday.

Assisi is located about 110 miles north of Vatican City.

Francis is scheduled to arrive at the Sacred Convent in the early afternoon, where he will celebrate Holy Mass at the tomb of Saint Francis, who was also born there.

He will sign the encyclical - an authoritative papal letter sent to clergy of the Roman Catholic Church - after the Mass.

The director of the Vatican press office, Matteo Bruni, said in a statement that the encyclical will be entitled "Fratelli Tutti" (All Brothers), and it's expected to stress the importance of fraternity and social friendship during and after the pandemic.

According to the Vatican News, the title is a reference to the writings of St. Francis: "Let us all, brothers, consider the Good Shepherd who to save His sheep bore the suffering of the Cross."

 

Domenico Sorrentino, the bishop of Assisi, said in a statement that the town awaits for the papal visit with "emotion and gratitude."

"While the world is suffering a pandemic that makes so many people's lives difficult, and makes us feel for brothers in pain, we cannot but feel the need to become above all brothers in love," he said.

The gesture "gives us new courage and strength to 'restart' in the name of the fraternity that unites us all," he added.

Because of the pandemic "it is the Holy Father's wish that the visit should take place in a private form, without any participation of the faithful," the Vatican said.

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