What to Expect From Pope Francis's Tour of the U.S.

A new day dawns on the Capitol in Washington, D.C. The pontiff’s speech to Congress this September will be broadcast from jumbotrons placed at the building’s West Front. SHUTTERSTOCK

Crowds of faithful Catholics always come out for a papal visit, but Pope Francis's tour of three American cities this fall is even more monumental than usual. The cornerstone of his tour is the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, which convenes only once every three years. Also noteworthy: As the first Latin American in his position of leadership, the Argentine pope is expected to make a point of connecting with the Latino masses of the U.S. Church. He'll celebrate the first canonization (a saint-making ceremony) on U.S. soil for the late Spanish friar Junípero Serra. As a nod to the significance of his event, a large number of the tickets for the canonization Mass will be reserved for Latinos.

Every hour of the pope's five-day tour of Washington, D.C., New York City and Philadelphia has been carefully planned by a battalion of local government officials, various archbishops, secretaries and assistants. Here are a few highlights from each city he'll visit during his trip:


Pope Francis will arrive in the nation's capital this afternoon, following a four-day stint in Cuba.


The day begins with a morning meeting with President Obama at the White House. Following their discussion, the pope will gather with bishops from the United States at St. Matthew's Cathedral for midday prayer. That afternoon, he'll perform the Mass of Canonization of Junípero Serra at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Serra, a Franciscan monk who lived in the 18th century, worked tirelessly as a missionary and administer to help establish Catholicism in California, despite suffering from crippling injuries.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral looms over New York’s Fifth Avenue. The house of worship has occupied its lofty position for more than 130 years. SHUTTERSTOCK


After a morning address to a joint session of Congress, the pope will make a stop at St. Patrick's Catholic Church and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington to meet with the district's homeless and hungry masses. Then, he will head north to New York City and arrive for a 6:45 p.m. evening prayer at St. Patrick's Cathedral on Fifth Avenue.


A visit to the United Nations starts the pope's day at 8:30 a.m.; there, he'll address the U.N. General Assembly. Three hours later, he'll head downtown to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum for a multi-religious service. Pope Benedict XVI also visited the site in 2008, but Francis's stop will mark the first papal visit since the museum was completed and the memorial was inaugurated.

At 4 p.m., the pope will travel to upper Manhattan to meet with underprivileged children at Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem. To cap off the day, he'll lead Mass at Madison Square Garden.

The City Hall building in Philadelphia. SHUTTERSTOCK


The day will begin with Mass at Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. Later at 4:45 p.m., Pope Francis will make an appearance at Independence Mall. While at this historic site, he is expected to speak about religious liberty and immigration.

At 7:30 p.m., the pope will make a visit to the Festival of Families, a huge gathering that will happen on Benjamin Franklin Parkway and is expected to attract at least one and a half million people. The Philadelphia Orchestra, the Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli and the Colombian pop star Juanes will all entertain at the festival.


The day will start with a meeting with bishops at St. Martin's Chapel. Next on the agenda is a visit to Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, where Pope Francis will sit with a selected group of inmates.

At 4 p.m. there is Mass for the conclusion of the World Meeting of Families at Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The festival begins September 22 and is an important event for the Church: The Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family sponsors the World Meeting of Families every three years in a different city, and nearly two million people are expected to attend. They'll have the opportunity to hear a bevy of keynote addresses on the importance of strengthening familial bonds. The end of the day will also mark the end of the papal tour, and Francis will depart for Rome.

This article appears in Newsweek's Collector's Edition, Pope Francis, The American Journey, by Issue Editor James Ellis

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