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What’s an ‘ad limina’ visit? Here are 8 things you need to know

On Feb. 10-15, bishops from Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico will travel to Rome for their “ad limina” visits. Here’s a few things to know:

What is an ad limina visit?
An ad limina visit is an obligatory visit made by all bishops to Rome during which they pray at the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul. In addition, they meet with Pope Francis and Vatican officials and present a quinquennial report of their respective diocese.

What does ad limina mean?
It is from the Latin ad limina apostolorum (“to the threshold of the apostles”).

What happens during an ad limina visit?
While the audience with Pope Francis receives the most coverage, the spiritual heart of an ad limina visit are Masses at the major churches of Rome: St. Peter’s Basilica, St. Paul Outside the Walls, St. John Lateran and St. Mary Major. In addition, the bishops will meet with officials from many of the departments and offices in the Roman Curia.

Who participates in the ad limina visit?
Every active, able American bishop will make an ad limina pilgrimage by Feb. 22, 2020. This particular trip will include bishops from Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. Among them, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila and the Archdiocese of Denver’s auxiliary bishop, Bishop Jorge H. Rodriguez will travel to Rome.

Is this Archbishop Aquila’s first ad limina visit?
This marks his first ad limina visit as the archbishop of Denver, but it will be his third ad limina visit overall. As bishop of Fargo, Archbishop Aquila participated in the 2004 and 2012 ad limina visits.

What about the auxiliary bishop?
This will be the first ad limina visit for Bishop Rodriguez, as he was ordained a bishop in November 2016.

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What’s a quinquennial report?
A quinquennial report is a detailed report on the state of a diocese. Over several chapters, it presents to the Holy Father and the Vatican an update on the activities of the bishop and diocese in several areas, including the liturgical and sacramental life of the local Church, Catholic education, evangelization, communications, social teaching of the Church, the financial state of the diocese and more. The chapters roughly correspond to the departments and offices of the Vatican.

The Code of Canon Law dictates that the visits are supposed to occur every five years. Why was there an almost eight-year gap between the previous ad limina visit and this one?
Quite simply, the number of dioceses and bishops throughout the world has grown too large for that five-year schedule to be practical. There are currently 3,017 dioceses, prelatures and vicariates around the world. To maintain a five-year schedule, the Holy Father would need to meet with more than one bishop every single day. Even with Pope Francis’ practice of meeting with groups of bishops, the every-five-years timetable is not feasible given the other demands on the Holy Father’s time.

This report of the ‘ad limina’ visits was originally compiled and published by Detroit Catholic. It is updated and reprinted here with permission.


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