Want to get a glimpse of Pope Francis when he visits Washington? This may be your best chance.
The pope will get in his popemobile for a parade after he visits President Obama at the White House Sept. 23, the best opportunity for those without a ticket to see him in Washington.
The leader of the Catholic Church will ride in a specially designed Jeep Wrangler with a glass-enclosed roof and be driven on the streets around the Ellipse, south of the White House, starting around 11 a.m.
To enter the parade route, there will be four security screening areas that will open starting at 4 a.m.. At 10 a.m., Secret Service will close off the area.
A Jumbotron will be placed on the northeast quadrant of Washington Monument grounds, near the corner of 15th Street NW and Constitution Avenue, for people to watch video feeds of the White House and events later that day. Individuals can stay through the day to watch what happens at the White House and at the Basilica, Jane Belford, chair of the planning committee for the Archdiocese of Washington, told reporters Thursday.
The pope will also address Congress and say an outdoor Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, near Catholic University. Though free, tickets are needed for those events.
Susan Timoney, the secretary for the pastoral ministry and social concerns for the archdiocese, said priests will also be available to hear confessions near the parade route.
“It will be very low key, perhaps people will take a walk” with the priests who are in the area, she said. Music and special programming related to the pope’s visit will continue on the Jumbotron, which will also stream the Mass from the basilica live at 4 p.m.
“We want this to be a joyous occasion for everybody,” said Lauren Ashburn, papal visit communication director. “Pope Francis appeals to people of all religions and this is not just an event for Catholics.”
The security in the area will be relaxed after the pope leaves and heads to St. Matthews Cathedral, where he is due at noon to address hundreds of American bishops. The pope will speak to bishops and pray with them, addressing them mostly in his native Spanish.
Then the pope will celebrate Mass from the east portico of the basilica, where he will canonize Junípero Serra, an 18th-century Franciscan friar who founded missions in California. This will be the first time the Catholic Church has held a saint-making ceremony on North American soil.
The Vatican’s press office said in August that Francis will use a retrofitted Jeep Wrangler as a popemobile during his visit to the United States, similar to the one he used in Ecuador earlier this year.
The vehicle is already in the hands of the Secret Service, as The Washington Post previously reported. According to Crux, there are multiple popemobiles available for Francis during his multi-city tour, along with the customary “reserve” in case of mechanical troubles.
Francis has previously said that he feels like he’s trapped in a “sardine can” when traveling in the fully bulletproof vehicle introduced after a 1981 assassination attempt on John Paul II.
The term “popemobile” doesn’t refer to one specific car. It’s an informal term that simply designates the vehicle the pope uses to travel publicly. Francis alone has used an array of different cars as a popemobile, including Mercedes, Toyota, Isuzu, Kia, Hyundai, Land Rover and Jeep, according to the Vatican.
Sunrise Masses in English and Spanish will be held Sept. 23 at several churches in the area and thousands of people are expected to walk or take the bus or metro after those services to the parade route.
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