The Holy Father will travel to northwestern Italy, where he will stay in Valle d'Aosta, a region he has previously vacationed in 1989, 1990, 1991, 1994, 1995, and 1997. (He has also spent summer vacation time in the Dolomite Mountains, at Lorenzago di Cadore, in 1987, 1988, 1992, 1993, and last year.) He will stay until July 20 in the village of Les Combes, in a two-story cottage surrounded by pines and larches, from which Mount Blanc is visible.
The Pope is scheduled to make only two public appearances during his two- week stay. He will recite the Angelus from the window of his vacation cottage on Sunday, July 11. And he will visit a Carmelite convent-- which he himself dedicated in 1989-- on July 18.
Following the pattern that he has set in previous years, the Pope will spend most of his vacation days in prayer, reading, writing, and walking in the mountains.
The principal event will be held at 7 p.m. in Mexico City, where the original promotion group resides. At that time, some 8,000 Rosaries will begin simultaneously, bringing together people from all over the world. The actual venues where the Rosaries will be prayed are very varied, including sports stadiums, bullfighting rings, cathedrals, schools, prisons, hospitals, factories and offices.
The organization of the event requires a representative in each place to coordinate activities. A public place of ample capacity is the second requirement. The local Bishop or parish priest must give his consent and support. All local religious and lay movements are invited. The event is promoted in all churches, parishes, schools, universities, civic centers, stadiums, hospitals, public offices, commercial centers, buses, etc. And, of course, it is also advertised in the media, including press, radio and television.
The promoters of World Rosary Day recommend that the Rosary be prayed before the Blessed Sacrament. They also suggest that priests be available for the sacrament of confession, and that participants fast during the day. For nine days prior to World Rosary Day, the organizers suggest that the Marian Prayer be recited, either as individuals, in the family, or in groups.
They presently have additional information only in Spanish at: http://www.churchforum.org/rosario. ZE99070508
Father Yan Weiping, the vicar general of the Yixian diocese, was recently found dead on a street in Beijing, according to a report carried by the Fides news service. The priest-- who had been active in the underground Church in Beijing-- had been arrested in May while celebrating Mass in a private home. The Cardinal Kung Foundation, an American-based group which collects information about the Catholic Church in China, believes that he was killed and then thrown out the window of a building in Beijing.
The Cardinal Kung Foundation also reports that Wang Qing, a seminarian in the Baoding diocese, was beaten, hanged by his hands, and forced to drink a "filthy fluid" after he was arrested while making a pastoral visit to a family in Baoding.
On Pentecost Sunday, May 23, government agents tried to arrest a priest who was celebrating Mass in a private home. When their effort was foiled, they arrested the four lay people who helped the priest to escape. The Fides news service has also received reports of lay people who were beaten by government officials, and even had their homes set on fire, because they were found to be keeping the sacred vessels used for celebrating Mass.
These incidents occurred in the Chinese province of Hebei, surrounding Beijing, which is the home to an estimated 1 million Catholics loyal to the Holy See. The Communist government of China has aggressively sought to discourage membership in this "underground" Church, while encouraging Catholics to join the government-approved "Patriotic Catholic Association."
Fides believes that the Beijing government is stepping up its efforts to suppress Catholicism, and other religious influences, as the country approaches the 50th anniversary of the Communist government in China. That campaign is particularly urgent because Christianity, along with Buddhism, have become increasingly popular among the Chinese people in recent years.
On July 1, during a ceremony for the 78th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party, President Jiang Zemin harshly criticized citizens who "believe in superstitions" and urged them to adhere instead to "historical materialism." And for several weeks the Communist People's Daily newspaper has published a series of articles condemning "religious idealism."
Even though the process of disassembling has already begun, works will continue and are expected to be finished by autumn.
This restoration is another form of preparation for the celebration of the Great Jubilee of year 2000. The facade has been polished, and problems caused by the passing of time, earthquakes and pollution have been solved.
Several lightly colored areas hidden below the dust have been discovered, as happened some months ago during the restoration of the Palazzo Farnese -masterpiece of the Italian renaissance in the city of Rome. After the cleansing of the facade, unknown details were discovered in the XVI century building.
The facade of St. Peter's Basilica is 114 meters wide and 45 meters tall. 13 statues, 6 meters tall, rise above it, representing the Lord Jesus, John the Baptist and eleven apostles.
The Basilica -constructed upon the one that Emperor Constantine built in the IV century over the tomb of the Apostle Peter- was consecrated by Pope Urban VIII in 1626. Pope Julius II (1503-1513) began its construction, which lasted more than a century.
A great number of churches and buildings are now being restored in Rome for the celebration of the Great Jubilee. Among them are also the other three major basilicas: Saint Paul Outside the Walls, Saint John Lateran and Saint Mary Maggiore.
Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, Archbishop of Philadelphia, informed about this campaign emphasizing the testimony of compassion and love of the faithful of the archdiocese for those who suffer and are most in need.
The campaign, begun in April, exceeded the initial expectations. It has been the greatest collection in the last eleven years. Cardinal Bevilacqua thanked Philadelphia's Catholics for "following the example of Jesus Christ" in this act of charity and solidarity.