On Friday the Pope will participate in welcoming ceremonies and also pray at the Mariensaeule, which is a large column with a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. On his first day he will also visit a memorial to Austrian victims of the Holocaust, and meet with members of the diplomatic corps.
On Saturday, the Holy Father will preside over Holy Mass on the occasion of the 850th anniversary of the founding of the Shrine of Mariazell. The shrine is one of the most popular shrines in Europe. It began in 1157 when a Benedictine monk prayed to Our Lady to help clear trees and rocks along his path into a dense region where he planned to settle and live out the remainder of his life. Our Lady interceded on his behalf and even split rocks to clear the monk's path! The monk settled, building a cell and eventually a chapel around a tree. He placed a 22-inch statue of Our Lady and the Child Jesus in the tree. The monk had brought the statue, a striking image of the Mother of God presenting Christ to the world, with him when he first set out into the wilderness. Soon pilgrims were coming from across Europe to visit this site, to pray to Our Lady, and to venerate the statue, which remains there today.
Also on Saturday, the Holy Father will also celebrate vespers on Saturday with priests, religious, deacons, and seminarians. The highlight of Sunday's activities will likely be Holy Mass at St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna.
It's a busy schedule
for the Holy Father over the next three days, but let us pray that it is a fruitful visit for the Church of Austria. You may have noticed when tuning into Wednesday's general audience, seen on Salt + Light Wednesdays in Italian, and Thursdays in English and French, that the Holy Father sounded somewhat under the weather. Let us remember to pray for the Pope's health, well-being, intentions, and for the success of his journey!
Enjoy the programming!
Photo: L'Osservatore Romano