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PHILADELPHIA — With the release of Pope Francis’ official itinerary at the end of July, the excitement has built even more in Philadelphia over the anticipation of his arrival for the 2015 World Meeting of Families.
Millions of people are expected to ascend upon the City of Brotherly Love during the last weekend in September and visitors should expect exactly what they think his appearance will attract — wall-to-wall people.
The Holy Father’s itinerary is practically filled from morning to night until he leaves, but not everything will be open to the public.
Below will let readers know what they can try and see, where it’s at and what to expect on Sept. 26 and 27. Some times are still being worked out.
Pope Francis will arrive at Atlantic Aviation in the morning of Sept. 26. His arrival will not be open to the public, but can be watched via live feed.
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The pope will first stop at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia and deliver a Mass. The Mass is also private, but once again, can be viewed via live feed.
After the Mass, Pope Francis will travel to the Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood for lunch and rest for the evening events.
With some much-needed rest, Pope Francis will go to Independence Hall in the early evening for his first appearance in front of the general public. This is a ticketed event, but the tickets will be free and it will be first-come, first-serve as far as where to stand. The public will be allowed on the grass of Independence Mall and stretch back to the lawn of the Constitution Center. Pope Francis will deliver a speech in front of Independence Hall. Don’t fret if you can’t get up close — there are 10 jumbotrons planned for the area. Arrive early because the event is expected to draw 2,400 people. While people wait for the pope to arrive, there will be performances on one of the stages from afternoon until the arrival. If you make it into the main viewing area for here, it would be wise to just stay there for the final event of the night and watch on the jumbotrons.
Festival of Families
One of the main events, the Festival of Families will happen at night. This event is predicted to bring 800,000 to one million people. The main stage will be right in front of the Art Museum at East Eakins Oval and the main viewing area will spread all the way down to City Hall in a perfect picturesque scene. Pope Francis will speak during the evening’s festivities as well. If you want a spot along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, you better arrive early. Just like Independence Hall, there will be musical interludes, including performances by The Philadelphia Orchestra, Andrea Bocelli and Juanes. If you can’t make it onto the parkway, which itself will have at least 20 jumbotrons, there will also be jumbotrons placed throughout the city in planned overflow areas, which have not been identified as of yet.
Pope Francis will begin the morning of Sept. 27 with an address to the Cardinals and Bishops at the Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary. The event is closed to the public, but can be viewed via live feed.
After his address, Pope Francis will visit with prisoners at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. Once again, and not surprisingly, this event will be closed to the public.
Expected to be the largest event of the weekend, the Papal Mass will draw at least 1.5 million people to the city. The Mass will begin at 4 p.m. and will be on the main stage at the East Eakins Oval on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. All the jumbotrons on the parkway and throughout the city will be showing the Mass. If you’re planning to attend, then make sure to plan to arrive in the morning to get through security and claim a spot.
When the Mass concludes, Pope Francis will head back to Atlantic Aviation, where he will thank volunteers and supporters of the 2015 World Meeting of Families before boarding his flight back to Rome. The event will be private.
One thing is for sure — there will be an endless amount of people from all across the world in the city during both days. Don’t expect to go anywhere fast, so plan accordingly. Even if you can’t make it as close as you hope, you’ll be able to watch everything that’s happening pretty much anywhere you go in the area with the planned 40 or so jumbotrons.
Only 69 more days until Pope Francis’ arrival and the 2015 World Meeting of Families.