Pope Francis Announces Catholic Church’s First World Day of Children
Pope Francis waves from the window of the Apostolic Palace as he gives his Angelus address for the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on Friday, Dec. 8, 2023. | Credit: Vatican Media
By Courtney Mares
Vatican City, 08 December, 2023 / 8:05 pm (ACI Africa).
Pope Francis announced Friday that the Catholic Church will celebrate its first World Day of Children in May 2024.
Speaking in his Angelus address on Dec. 8 to mark the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the pope shared that the Church’s first children’s day will be celebrated in Rome on the weekend of May 25-26.
“And now I have the joy of announcing that on May 25 and 26 next year, we will celebrate the first World Day of Children in Rome,” Pope Francis said from the window of the Apostolic Palace overlooking St. Peter’s Square.
“Like Jesus, we want to put children at the center and care for them,” he added.
The pope explained that the day, organized by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Culture and Education, will seek to answer the question “What kind of world do we wish to pass on to the children who are growing up?”
According to Vatican News, the event was inspired by a 9-year-old boy named Alessandro, who proposed the idea to the pope to have an international event like World Youth Day (an international gathering for young people ages 16 to 35) for younger children.
The Vatican is expecting thousands of girls and boys from all over the world to travel to Rome for the event with the pope.
Last November, the Vatican hosted an event with 7,500 children from five continents in the Paul VI Hall as a prelude to next year’s World Day of Children.
Pope Francis previously established the Catholic Church’s annual World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly in 2021.
The pope announced the creation of a children’s day after praying the Angelus prayer with the crowd gathered near the Christmas tree in St. Peter’s Square to mark the day’s Marian feast. Pope Francis reflected on the young Virgin Mary’s “daily fidelity in simple things.”
“Prior to the Annunciation, the Gospel says nothing about Mary. She is presented as a simple girl, apparently equal to so many others who were living in her village. A young girl who, precisely because of her simplicity, kept pure that Immaculate Heart with which, by God’s grace, she had been conceived. And this too is important, for to welcome God’s great gifts, it is necessary to know how to treasure those that are more everyday and less apparent,” the pope said.
“It is precisely with her daily fidelity in goodness that Our Lady allowed God’s gift to grow within her. This is how she trained herself to respond to the Lord, to say ‘yes’ to him with her entire life,” he added.
The pope’s appearance in the window of the Apostolic Palace marked the first time that Pope Francis read his Angelus reflection unassisted in nearly two weeks. Since Nov. 26, the pope has offered his usual Sunday Angelus reflections from inside his residence with the help of an aide to read his speech for him as he recovered from what he has described as “very acute infectious bronchitis.”
Pope Francis will continue the celebration of the Immaculate Conception feast on Friday by paying tribute to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Basilica of St. Mary Major and at a special afternoon ceremony in Rome’s historic center near the Spanish Steps.
Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.
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