Philadelphia will host a large gathering of the Roman Catholic church called the World Meeting of Families in September 2015, an event expected to bring hundreds of thousands from around the world, church officials announced Monday.
In a statement, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Vatican announced the gathering will be held in the City of Brotherly Love from Sept. 22 through Sept. 27 in 2015.
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput said he plans to give additional details about the event at a news conference Monday. Chaput, along with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, will be holding a news conference to discuss details of the event at 11 a.m. Monday.
The selection of Philadelphia as the host of the 2015 gathering was first announced by Pope Benedict XVI in Milan in June. The dates for the VIII World Meeting of Families were confirmed in a letter last month, church officials said Monday.
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said in a statement that, while he would be unable to make Monday's announcement, he has accepted Chaput's invitation to serve as the meeting's honorary co-chair and looks forward to working closely with Chaput and Nutter in coordinating the event.
"Today across Pennsylvania our places of worship are full of strong, persevering people of faith,'' Corbett said in a statement. "This special event is not only an opportunity to welcome families from around the world, but an opportunity to celebrate the religious heritage and freedom that have built both our state and our nation.''
In June, Benedict announced the venue during a Sunday Mass in Milan celebrating the seventh such gathering of families from around the world. The pope sent his greetings to Chaput and the Catholics "of that great city'' and said he was looking forward to meeting them in 2015. That was months before the announcement earlier this month that the 85-year-old Benedict would step down Feb. 28.
In 1979, Pope John Paul II drew gigantic crowds when he visited the city as part of his first U.S. tour as pontiff. The Philadelphia region has an estimated 1.5 million Catholics and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is one of the biggest in the country.