Papal Mass: Prepare for ‘pilgrimage’ and leave selfie sticks at home

Some 700 gardaí will be in Phoenix Park for event with stage inspired by Claddagh ring

The papal Mass in the Phoenix Park on August 26th will be the largest outdoor event in Europe this year.


People travelling to the Phoenix Park for Mass with Pope Francis next week should treat the day as a pilgrimage and prepare for a long day, an Garda Síochána has said.

Some 2,500 gardaí will be on duty on Sunday, August 26th, with about 700 of those in the Phoenix Park for the Papal Mass.

“Treat it as if you were going up the side of Croagh Patrick,” Assistant Garda Commissioner for Dublin Pat Leahy said on Tuesday. “We are saying prepare for a long day because it is a pilgrimage that people are going on. They’re going to Mass with 500,000 people with them and the Pope is saying Mass.”

“Be very efficient in what you pack, a nice small bag is what we would prefer.”

Mr Leahy said selfie sticks should be left at home “if at all possible”. “If everybody brought one they would be quite uncomfortable for people,” he said.

He said the threat level remains “moderate” for the pope’s visit to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families.

Half a million

The World Meeting of Families said half a million people are expected to attend the Mass with a further 250,000 attending events at the RDS, Croke Park and Knock. A quarter of registrations are for people aged under 18, with the next largest group people aged under 45, it said.

“We really have many young families arriving here for the full week,” said Anne Griffin, general manager of the World Meeting of Families.


Preparing for papal visit to the Phoenix Park VIEW NOW

Ms Griffin said about 20,000 international delegates and pilgrims are coming to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families, with 2,000 of those being hosted by Dublin families for free.

“If this event wasn’t happening, they would not be here. They’re all spending money, they’re adding to the economy and here to help us celebrate the arrival of the Holy Father to World Meeting of Families,” she said.

Claddagh ring

The stage being erected for Mass at the Phoenix Park was designed by Johnny Donnelly, a former member of the Saw Doctors.

Mr Donnelly, creative director with Arcana, said the stage’s design was partly inspired by the Claddagh ring in order to reflect Pope Francis’s image of the family as a vine encompassing all its members.

“Normally, a lot of stages you see around the world are square rectangular shapes. We knew that we wanted to have that warming feng shui type of effect which is why we came up with this,” he said.

The chair that Pope Francis will sit on at the Mass as well as the altar for the stage is currently being constructed by the Specialist Joinery Group in Maghera, Co Derry.

The Office of Public Works (OPW) recently repainted the Papal Cross in the Phoenix Park for the visit.

Leave no trace

Jane Mellett, project co-ordinator for the World Meeting of Families, said they are asking people who attend Mass at the Phoenix Park to “leave no trace”.

“Whatever pilgrims bring into the park, we’re asking them to take it back home with them,” she said.

Fr Damian McNeice said it is “very much our hope” that everyone will be able to receive Holy Communion and has recruited 4,000 servers for the Mass.

“We’ll have a choir of 3,000 people to the left and right of the stage, we’ve got a really good representation of Irish composers in there and Irish language so I’m really happy with that,” Fr McNeice added.

The event at the Phoenix Park on Sunday will run from 8am until 8pm, with music and videos played throughout the day. Mass is due to take place in the afternoon.

Organisers said some 25,000 sliced pans will be used to make sandwiches on the day along with 31,250 litres of milk consumed, based on the probability that half of the attendees will have a tea or coffee.

Irish Rail has urged customers who intend to travel for the Papal Mass to book Intercity trains as soon as possible. It said a number of scheduled and extra trains are already sold out, with all routes expected to be.

Dublin Zoo said it will be closed to the public on August 25th, 26th and 27th to facilitate the pope’s visit.