The Holy Father officially announced during Mass in St Peter’s Basilica on Saturday 12 December, that he will be visiting Mexico City to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe, who appeared to St. Juan Diego in 1531.He made the announcement while preaching on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Recalling Our Blessed Mother’s words to St Juan Diego, the Pope said the presence of the Lord and his mother is the source of peace and joy even in the midst of suffering.
Mary, he continued, became the “mother of mercy" after having received in her womb “the very source of that mercy: Jesus Christ." Entrusting the sufferings and joys of “the whole American continent" to her, Pope Francis prayed and asked for Mary’s intercession in cultivating mercy during this Jubilee year. He also prayed that the Blessed Virgin may “sow merciful love in the hearts of people and families" during the jubilee year.
“To her we ask that this jubilee year becomes a sowing of merciful love in the heart of the people, families, and nations," he said. “That we become merciful, and that the Christian communities learn to be an oasis and a source of mercy.I beseech her to guide the footsteps of the American people, a pilgrim people who look for the mother of mercy, and I only ask her one thing: to show us her son Jesus," the pope said.
The Pope will be in Mexico from Feb. 12-18. During a recent press briefing, Pope Francis said his next trip would most likely be Mexico, although the details had not been confirmed.
During his sermon, the pope said that the Mercy of God’s love is his “most surprising attribute" and is not only evident through Mary but also primarily towards the church and every single person. God, he said “loves us with a free love, without limits, expecting nothing in return."
He also said that nothing can be bigger and grander than the Mercy of almighty God. “No matter how great or serious the sins of the world may be, the Spirit, who renews the face of the earth, makes possible the miracle of a more human life, full of joy and hope," he said.
“To as for all this, I will travel to venerate her in her shrine next Feb. 13," the pope said.
Just after the Mass ended, the Vatican made public the full program for his visit to Mexico. It will include visits to the Mexico DF (or Distrito Federal, the official name for Mexico City), San Cristóbal de las Casas, close to the southern border with Guatemala, Morelia, and also Ciudad Juarez, next to the US border.
The visit to Ciudad Juarez is anticipated to provide the Pope a platform to pledge his support for immigrant rights, and just as voters in the United States are heading to the polls in both Iowa and New Hampshire.
Each visit will be a one-day trip, spending the night in capital everyday before moving on to a different city.
This will be the 12th international trip and the third to his home continent Pope Francis will be making.. His previous trips to Latin America included Brazil in 2013 and Bolivia, Ecuador, and Paraguay in July.