Click here if you don’t see subscription options
Children perform as Pope Francis visits with refugees in Sofia, Bulgaria, May 6, 2019. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) 

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis will celebrate Mass in St. Peter's Basilica with migrants, refugees and volunteer rescue teams, the Vatican said.

According to the Vatican, the Mass July 8 will mark the sixth anniversary of the pope's visit to the southern Italian island of Lampedusa.

"Around 250 people will participate in the celebration," which will take place at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter's Basilica, the Vatican said July 1. While the Mass will be broadcasted live, it will not be open to the press or the public.

"The Holy Father desires that the moment be as recollected as possible in the remembrance of how many have lost their lives fleeing war and misery, and so as to encourage those who strive day after day to sustain, accompany and welcome migrants and refugees," the Vatican said.

In 2013, the pope decided to visit Lampedusa, a small island with a population of 6,000 and just 70 miles from Tunisia, after seeing newspaper headlines describing the drowning of immigrants at sea.

While celebrating Mass there, Pope Francis said the purpose of his visit was not only to pray for those who lost their lives at sea, but also "to try to awaken people's consciences."

"Maybe we think, 'Oh, poor soul,' but we continue on our way," Pope Francis said. "The culture of well-being, which leads us to think only of ourselves, makes us insensitive to the cries of others."

"Maybe we think, 'Oh, poor soul,' but we continue on our way," he said. "The culture of well-being, which leads us to think only of ourselves, makes us insensitive to the cries of others."

The island was recently back in the headlines after the captain of a migrant rescue ship made her way into the port of Lampedusa after Italian authorities blocked the ship's entry.

The ship --with 40 migrants on board -- had been forced to remain in international waters for 17 days in the midst of a heatwave.

Upon her arrival at the port, Carola Rackete, the captain, was arrested June 29 by Italian authorities and could face three years to 10 years in prison.

While Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini applauded her arrest, several European countries denounced her detainment, stating that as a ship captain, Rackete fulfilled her duty by rescuing the migrants.

Pope Francis has often praised the work of rescue volunteers who risk their lives to save others.

During a 2018 Mass commemorating the fifth anniversary of his visit to Lampedusa, the pope expressed his gratitude to a Spanish rescue team stationed in the Mediterranean Sea "for embodying in our day the parable of the good Samaritan, who stopped to save the life of the poor man beaten by bandits."

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Dr.Cajetan Coelho
4 years 8 months ago

Migrants, they are God-fearing and God-loving.

The latest from america

Robert Giroux edited some of the 20th century's leading writers, including some prominent Catholic voices like Flannery O'Connor, Walker Percy and Thomas Merton.
James T. KeaneFebruary 27, 2024
The facade of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City
Mourners wanted Cecilia Gentili’s funeral to be held in St. Patrick’s Cathedral for “iconic” reasons, to make the deceased the “star of the show,” emphasizing the individual over the society.
Nicholas D. SawickiFebruary 27, 2024
Washington Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory leads a prayer service on Feb. 25, 2023, for enslaved people believed to be buried in the cemetery at Sacred Heart Parish in Bowie, Md. The property is on a former plantation once owned by members of the Society of Jesus in Maryland in the 1700s and 1800s. (OSV News photo/Mihoko Owada, Catholic Standard)
The descendants of Jesuit enslavement have no choice but to confront the church’s sinful history, but rather than harden their hearts, many are seeking reconciliation along with the restoration of justice.
Monique Trusclair MaddoxFebruary 27, 2024
After participating in a seminar on the Catholic Church and the Freemasons, an Italian bishop reaffirmed that Catholics who belong to Masonic lodges are in a “serious state of sin” and cannot receive Communion.