The highlight of Pope Francis’ much-anticipated visit to Korea next week is arguably the beatification Mass to be held on Aug. 16 in streets of Gwanghwamun Square.
As many as 1 million people are expected to gather in the area to see the head of the Roman Catholic Church beatify 124 Korean martyrs, although the likelihood of a close encounter is very slim.
Officials at the Korean Catholic Church unveiled Tuesday more details about the ceremony, while asking for understanding and cooperation of citizens regarding the inconvenience that such a large-scale outdoor event could cause.
“The Holy Father wants to meet as many people as possible. But for us, who are organizing the event, the biggest concern is the security and safety of the pope, as well as all the participants,” Rev. Mattias Hur Young-yup, a spokesperson for the Preparatory Committee for the Visitation of the Holy Father, during a press conference at Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul.
According to him, a 1.3-meter high safety fence will be installed along the street where the Mass will take place.
This statue of the Holy Mother with baby Jesus in traditional Korean clothes, was prepared by a group of Korean nuns for Pope Francis’ scheduled visit to Korea next week. Robes for the pope were also made by the nuns. (Preparatory Committee for the Visitation of the Holy Father)
Only some 170,000 faithfuls, invited from dioceses throughout the nation, will be allowed in to attend the Mass after a thorough identification check.
The security check will open at 4 a.m. and run till 7 a.m., meaning that all the attendees must arrive at least three hours before 10 a.m., when the Mass is scheduled to start.
The Mass will last up to two hours.
Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive in Korea on the morning of Aug. 14.
On the day of the beatification ceremony, he will first head to a holy site in Seosomun, about 1.5 kilometers from Gwanghwamun Square, where 27 of the 124 Koreans to be beatified were martyred.
As he heads for Gwangwhamun, Korean pianist Paik Kun-woo will play “St. Francis of Assisi Preaching to the Birds,” an eight-minute piano music composed by Liszt.
The pope, riding an open car, will pass down the 1.2-kilometer street where the 170,000 faithful will wait. The parade is expected to last about 30 minutes.
The pope will speak Latin during the Mass, but the sermon will be in Italian.
At the podium, there will be a statue of the Holy Mother with baby Jesus wearing Korean traditional costume. The pope will wear a red robe for the Mass, specially prepared by a group of Korean nuns.
The preparatory committee also disclosed Tuesday that the pope will meet with bereaved families and survivors of the Sewol ferry, which sank in April and killed over 300, in Daejeon, south of Seoul, on Aug 15.
The committee also said that North Korea turned down the invitation to attend a Mass for Peace and Reconciliation to be held at the Myeongdong Cathedral on Aug. 18.
By Lee Sun-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)