Pope to Hand Out Bibles at Sunday of the Word of God Celebration

A woman reads the Bible in St. Ignatius, Guyana, in this 2019 file photo. On Jan. 24 the pope will celebrate Mass marking Sunday of the Word of God and will present Bibles to a variety of Catholics, including a professional soccer player, a physician and a student. (CNS photo/Paul Jeffrey)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — At his celebration of Mass for Sunday of the Word of God Jan. 24, Pope Francis will present a Bible to a professional soccer player, a woman from Pakistan studying in Rome to be a Scripture scholar and a physician specialized in infectious diseases.

The Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, which coordinates the annual celebration, said others who will receive the Scriptures from Pope Francis include: two Rome parish catechists, two young people who were recently confirmed, a seminarian from South Sudan preparing for his formal installation as a lector and a person who is blind and will receive a copy of the Gospel of Mark in braille.

The soccer pro is A.S. Roma player Lorenzo Pellegrini, who will receive the Bible with his family.

The theme for the 2021 celebration is “Hold on to the word of life,” which comes from the Letter to the Philippians.

Because of the ongoing need to observe precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the pope will celebrate the Mass at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica rather than at the main altar. Only about 100 people will be in the congregation, the pontifical council said in a statement Jan. 22.

The Sunday of the Word of God, instituted by Pope Francis in 2019, is meant to encourage among all Catholics interest in knowing the Sacred Scriptures and their central role in the life of the church and the Christian faith.