BOGOTA – Colombia’s capital will hold days of prayer, vigils and events extolling the virtues of social harmony and the family as it prepares to welcome Pope Francis, who will arrive in the Andean nation on Sept. 6, the archdiocese of Bogota said on Thursday.
Auxiliary Bishop Pedro Salamanca, who is leading the capital’s spiritual preparations for the pontiff’s visit, made those remarks in a press conference.
He said activities that foster social harmony, tolerance, kindness and solidarity would be carried out in parishes nationwide.
“The central theme is family” as an essential part of society, Salamanca said.
These activities will include the transfer to Bogota of a 16th-century painting of the Virgin Mary that the faithful believe had become faded and torn before miraculously being restored to its original splendor before the eyes of a pious woman.
The one-ton painting will be transferred amid strict security measures from the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary in Chiquinquira, a central Colombian town and major pilgrimage site, to Bogota.
Pope Francis will make a floral offering and pray before the image on Sept. 7, a ceremony in which he will be accompanied by around 1,500 people.
He is scheduled to arrive in the Colombian capital on Sept. 6 and be received the following day at the presidential palace by head of state Juan Manuel Santos.
During his stay in Bogota, the first Latin American pope also will celebrate a Mass in Simon Bolivar Park that is expected to draw around 1 million people.
The pontiff also will make stops in the cities of Villavicencio, Medellin and Cartagena during his visit.