The Pope will lead prayers in Wimbledon later this month – where Catholics are expected to cheer his arrival and watch coverage of his visit on giant screens.
The Catholic Church has confirmed the Pope will lead a private mass when he stays in Wimbledon Common later this month – but would not reveal how many people had been invited to the service.
The Pope will stay at the apostolic nunciature in Parkside during his visit to Britain from September 16 to 19. At 8am on September 17 he will hold a mass in the building’s chapel.
The building is the home of Archbishop Dr Faustino Munoz – the Pope’s nuncio, or ambassador, to Britain. Earlier this year Archbishop Munoz suffered a stroke and this week the church would not state what role he would play in the visit.
Father Hugh Duffy, of Sacred Heart Church, said he hoped well-wishers would line the roads near the nunciature.
The Edge Hill church is also planning to broadcast some coverage of the visit to its parishoners on large television screens.
The church’s youth ministry is set to send members to the Pope’s public appearance in Twickenham, where they will be joined by students from Ursuline school and Wimbledon College.
During his trip, the Pope will lead public outdoor masses in Birmingham and Glasgow, as well as a prayer vigil in London’s Hyde Park, and meet children and teenagers at St Mary’s University College in Twickenham. He will also announce the beatification of Cardinal Newman – the ceremony is the first step towards making the English priest, who died in 1890, a saint.
Protest the Pope, a coalition of organisations opposed to the visit – which includes secular and gay rights campaigners – said it had not planned any demonstrations to take place in Wimbledon, but would protest during his appearance in Twickenham.