POPE Francis' official itinerary for his visit to Ireland this summer has been released after months of speculation.
The Pontiff is traveling to Dublin to take part in the 9th World Meeting of Families (WMOF) on August 25 and 26.
He will also visit the Day Centre for Homeless Families of the Capuchin Fathers in south Dublin on August 25 and the Knock Shrine in Co. Mayo on August 26.
The Holy Father's schedule was confirmed at a press conference in Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth this morning.
See the full itinerary below:
Saturday 25 August 2018
08:15 Departure by plane from Rome/Fiumicino for Dublin
10:30 Arrival at Dublin International Airport and OFFICIAL WELCOME
10:45 Transfer to Áras an Uachtaráin
11:15 Arrival at the Presidential Residence and WELCOME CEREMONY in front of the main entrance of the Residence
11:30 COURTESY VISIT TO THE PRESIDENT in the Presidential Residence
12:00 Transfer to Dublin Castle
12:10 Arrival at Dublin Castle. MEETING WITH AUTHORITIES, CIVIL SOCIETY AND DIPLOMATIC CORPS and speech of the Holy Father
15:30 Arrival at St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral VISIT to the CATHEDRAL Greeting of the Holy Father
16:15 Transfer to the Day Centre of the Capuchin Fathers in south Dublin
16:30 PRIVATE VISIT to the DAY CENTRE FOR HOMELESS FAMILIES of the CAPUCHIN FATHERS
19:30 Arrival at Croke Park Stadium
19:45 FEAST OF FAMILIES in Croke Park Stadium and speech of the Holy Father.
Sunday 26 August 2018
08:40 Departure by plane for Knock, County Mayo
09:20 Arrival at the Airport in Knock. Immediate transfer to the Shrine
09:45 Arrival and VISIT to the CHAPEL of Knock Shrine. ANGELUS on the square in front of the Shrine Angelus of the Holy Father
10:45 Transfer to the airport in Knock
11:10 Arrival at the airport in Knock
11:15 Departure by plane for Dublin
11:50 Arrival at Dublin International Airport and lunch with the Papal Delegation
14:30 Arrival at Phoenix Park
15:00 HOLY MASS in Phoenix Park Homily of the Holy Father. MEETING WITH THE BISHOPS in the Convent of the Dominican Sisters Speech of the Holy Father
18:30 Arrival at Dublin International Airport and FAREWELL CEREMONY
18:45 Departure by plane for Roma/Ciampino.
'A gift to the Irish Church'
Archbishop Michael Neary revealed that he personally invited Pope Francis to Ireland during the Irish Bishops' visit to the Vatican in January 2017.
He added: "I warmly welcome the announcement this morning of a papal visit to Knock which is a very appropriate link with the World Meeting of Families.
"One of the most beautiful sights at Knock is to see families, sometimes the three generations praying and enjoying the peace and tranquillity of the Shrine.
"The Apparition at Knock was a family apparition incorporating Our Lady, Saint Joseph, Jesus as the Lamb of God, and John representing the extended family."
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said: "My hope is that now the World Meeting of Families - the pastoral preparation, the Pastoral Congress in the RDS and the visit of Pope Francis – will open out for families renewed inspiration, hope and healing.
"The visit of Pope Francis must not be just a once off event. It comes as the Church in Ireland struggles to find a new place in Irish society and culture - a very different one from the dominant one it held in the past.
"Pope Francis said to me that he considers the World Meeting of Families as a gift to the Irish Church ... a gift the Irish Church can then share with others."
Pope Francis' visit will be the first of a Pope to Ireland since John Paul II toured the country in 1979.
Despite recent speculation, the Pontiff will not cross the border for a brief visit to Northern Ireland.
As many as 600,000 people are expected to attend the Pontiff's special mass at Phoenix Park for the WMOF.
The event will host 200 speakers - 91 of whom are women - from all five main continents of the world.
Amoris Laetitia (Joy of Love) will be the guiding theme of WMOF 2018 - with other themes including the future of marriage in the modern world, the impact of technology on the family and the impact of homelessness, addiction, domestic violence and disability on families today.