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Papal ceremony for Ash Wednesday moved to Vatican basilica

February 12, 2013

Vatican officials have moved Ash Wednesday services from their traditional location in the basilica of Santa Sabina to St. Peter’s basilica, expecting an unusually large congregation of the faithful to attend what might be the last public liturgical ceremony of this pontificate.

The Vatican liturgical office had earlier announced that Pope Benedict XVI would lead the traditional Ash Wednesday procession from the basilica of St. Anselm to that of St. Sabina, followed by the blessing and imposition of ashes. But after the Pope’s surprise announcement that he would resign effective February 28, those plans were changed.

Since there are no major liturgical ceremonies on the Pope’s calendar between Ash Wednesday and February 28, this is likely to be the final public ceremony at which Pope Benedict presides.

For similar reasons, the Vatican has moved a February 14 meeting with the pastors of Rome to the Paul VI auditorium, expecting an unusually large number of priests in attendance.

Pope Benedict will hold his last public audience in Wednesday, February 27. That audience has been scheduled for the Paul VI auditorium, but will probably be moved to St. Peter’s Square to accommodate a very large crowd.


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