MANILA (UPDATED) —Pope Francis will lead the Filipino community in Italy in the quincentennial celebration of Christianity in the Philippines.
Quoting Fr. Ricky Gente of the Filipino Chaplaincy in Rome, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines said the celebration will be highlighted with a mass to be officiated by Francis at St. Peter's Basilica at 10 a.m. (5 p.m. in Manila) on March 14.
Also joining the mass are Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples; and Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, the pope's vicar for Rome.
Only a limited number of people, however, will be allowed to attend the mass in person at the basilica due to COVID-19 restrictions.
After the mass, Pope Francis will also lead the traditional recitation of the Angelus prayer at St. Peter's Square.
In an interview on Teleradyo Wednesday, Fr. Greg Gaston, rector of the Pontificio Collegio Filippino, said the mass will most likely be in Italian, but some Filipino songs may be used during the mass.
"Pope Francis' Mass on March 14 is a gesture of his closeness to us Filipinos. In various moments during his visit to the Philippines in 2015 and in the Simbang Gabi Mass at St. Peter's in 2019, he has shown his deep appreciation for our life of faith. May we continue the work started 500 years ago of bringing Christ to others in our daily life, starting with our family, in our local community and nation, and even abroad," Gaston told ABS-CBN News.
In the Philippines, most dioceses will launch the yearlong commemoration on April 4, Easter Sunday.