Verona vibrates with enthusiasm as it prepares to host Pope Francis for a historic event themed “Justice and Peace Shall Embrace.” From San Zeno to the stadium, the agenda is jam-packed with important discussions, prayers, reflections with activists, and performances by widely recognized local and worldwide musicians.

The topic “Justice and Peace Shall Embrace” is based on Psalm 85, which depicts a narrative of restored love between God and His people as well as reconciliation in interpersonal relationships.

On May 18th, these significant issues will be discussed via diverse mediums, ensuring a day of serious talks about peace and justice. These topics have had a significant impact on the history and spirituality of Verona’s Church, as seen by patron Saint Zeno’s sermons and the many people who, inspired by Christ, have advocated for social justice.

The program of May 18.

The celebrations begin in front of Saint Zeno Cathedral, where Pope Francis will meet with approximately 7,000 kids and young adults and lead spiritual exercises accompanied by vibrant entertainment. The day’s theme is relatable to the young, reflecting their creative expressions of peace through numerous projects organized by local parishes and schools.

One of the most significant elements of the visit is the emphasis on jail participation. Pope Francis will pay a visit to the Montorio Penitentiary at midday, when he will have a meal with convicts who will showcase their artisanal abilities. Furthermore, the woodworking installations on exhibit at the Arena di Pace stage are creations of the prison’s workshop. This prison-based effort focuses on skill development and rehabilitation, with the aim of developing confidence, collaboration, and dignity, all of which contribute to social well-being as well as decreasing recidivism. Additionally, communion wafers for the stadium liturgy are produced by those incarcerated in Castelfranco Emilia, representing unity and redemption.

Arena di Pace, a pivotal event that will take place from 9 to 12 a.m.., acts as a congregational hub for Italian grassroots movements and an artistic-cultural exchange promoting peace and unity. Pope Francis’ participation in the event underscores his commitment to dialogue and engagement with societal challenges, emphasizing the significance of collective action in fostering global solidarity.

The day finishes with a Pentecostal Eucharistic service at Bentegodi Stadium (3 p.m.), which is projected to attract 30,000 people. Prior to the Mass, a themed youth-led event titled “Courage for Peace” will engage 3,800 adolescents and young adults in debate, singing, dance, and reflections. The event has a line-up of well-known activists, journalists, and artists, each contributing to the narrative of “justice and peace.”

Pope Francis’ visit to Verona is essentially a call to action, asking people to turn their aspirations for “justice and peace” into concrete projects that promote social cohesion, inclusion, and respect. Pope Francis and Verona meet through discussion, compassion, and solidarity, representing a shared goal of a peaceful and fair world.