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Rome Reports

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Pope's Schedule: He celebrates Ash Wednesday in two basilicas

The Vatican is promoting meetings with world experts on the great problems that affect the world today. In recent weeks there have been congresses covering human trafficking, selling of organs and the right to water. This week, from Monday to Wednesday they will convene to discuss environment and biological extinction. However, what will especially mark the pope's schedule this week is the beginning of Lent, the time of preparation for Holy Week and Easter in the Church. It will begin on Wednesday, traditionally known as "Ash Wednesday," in which the pope will preside over a ceremony on Aventine Hill. The celebration begins in the Basilica of St. Anselmo at 4:30 p.m. and ends at the Basilica of St. Sabina. Traditionally the pope walks on foot from one basilica to another, tackling the steep road. He will deliver a reflection on the spirit of Lent, a time of conversion and penance. The Basilica of St. Sabina is the headquarters of the Dominicans, the order founded by St. Dominic of Guzmán in the 13th century. Pope Francis will continue with the two traditional public acts of the week, the General Audience on Wednesday morning and the Angelus prayer on Sunday in St. Peter's Square. On Sunday, after the Angelus, he will leave for his personal spiritual retreat in the area of Ariccia, a small town on the outskirts of Rome. JRB/MB RR - -PR Up: JC