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Pope Francis will consecrate the new altar of the Cathedral of Panama, the Basilica of Our Lady of Antigua, next Saturday, January 26th, 2019.
The diocese of Panama was the first on the mainland of the Americas and now its altar will be the first in the Americas to be consecrated by a Supreme Pontiff.
“It is an honor that the Holy Father decided to consecrate this altar during his visit to Panama for World Youth Day 2019. It is an expression of love and respect for the Church in Panama,” said the Apostolic Nuncio in Panama, Abp. Miroslaw Adamczyk.
“For the liturgical act, the altar will be bare (without an altar cloth). It will be anointed with the holy chrism. Incense will be lit and the prayer of consecration will be recited. Afterwards, the altar will be adorned, the candles will be lit, and the presider, on this occasion Pope Francis, will venerate the altar for the first time and will kiss it, which normally happens at the beginning of a Mass,” explained Father Manuel Ríos Yuil, Subdirector of the Liturgy Department of the Archdiocese of Panama.
The new altar has been fashioned from marble from Carrara, Italy, and on the front there is carved an image of a pelican with its young, as a symbol of Christ, since it was believed that when this bird could not find food, it would feed its young with its own blood.
The eucharistic celebration in which the altar will be consecrated will be a ceremony full of symbolism, since the relics of three Latin American saints and one Polish saint will also be placed: Saint Rose of Lima, Saint Óscar Arnulfo Romero, Saint Martin de Porres, and Pope Saint John Paul II, the founder of World Youth Day.