This article has been corrected and added to since its original posting, to reflect additional details and changes in the itinerary of the pilgrims and Archbishop Thomas Wenski.
MIAMI | Archbishop Thomas Wenski, along with a group of archdiocesan priests and pilgrims, arrived in Rome Feb. 9, for his ad limina visit, a required report on the state of the diocese that every bishop must make, usually every five years. This visit’s report is the first with Pope Francis and
represents a review of eight years in the life of the archdiocese.
The archbishop and Auxiliary Bishop Enrique Delgado will spend most of their days this week visiting the different dicasteries, or departments, in the Vatican. The bishops from the U.S. ecclesiastical provinces of Miami and Atlanta — which encompass all of Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina — are also making their ad limina visit at the same time. The bishops celebrated Mass early in the morning of Feb. 10 at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the pope's cathedral, in Rome.
While the archbishop made the rounds of the dicasteries Feb. 10, the archdiocesan pilgrims attended Mass celebrated at St. John Lateran by the
bishops, and then toured the cathedral, the coliseum and the Roman Forum as
well as the barracks of the Swiss Guards.
As Feb. 11 was a holiday in Vatican City, Archbishop Wenski was able to join the pilgrims in Orvieto, where he celebrated Mass at the cathedral that houses the relic of the eucharistic miracle that took place in the nearby town of Bolsena in 1263. That's when a traveling priest who had doubts about the truth of transubstantiation found that his host was bleeding so much that it stained the altar cloth. The cloth is now stored in the Chapel of the Corporal inside the cathedral.
The archbishop celebrated Mass with his fellow bishops at the Basilica of St. Mary Major Feb. 12 before continuing his dicastery meetings. The pilgrims, meanwhile, attended the general audience with Pope Francis and later in the day visited the Scavi, the ancient Roman excavations below the Basilica of St. Peter, culminating at the tomb of St. Peter. In the evening, Archbishop Wenski joined them for Mass at the parish of Santa Maria della Grazie alle Fornaci.
On Thursday, Feb. 13, the pilgrims joined Archbishop Wenski as main celebrant of the Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, at the tomb of St. Peter, along with the bishops and delegations from the other dioceses of Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina. Following the Mass, the bishops met with Pope Francis and the pilgrims moved on to tour the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. In the evening, they would join the archbishop for a reception at the residence of the American Ambassador to the Holy See.
"A few of us had the privilege of being introduced to Pope Francis by
Archbishop Wenski before the bishops’ meeting with the pope," reports Sister Elizabeth Worley, archdiocesan chancellor for administration. "The pope was
very pleased to see women religious present (myself and four sisters who live and
work in Rome and are friends of Bishop (William) Wack (Pensacola-Tallahassee)."
On Friday, Feb. 14, the plan was for the pilgrims to make a morning visit to San Gregorio al Celio and the Missionaries of Charity, to see the room where Mother Teresa lived and
have the chance to venerate her relics. The pilgrimage was to conclude that evening with the pilgrims from all the dioceses and their bishops celebrating Mass at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. The Miami pilgrims would then join Archbishop Wenski for a farewell dinner before flying home Saturday morning.