Over 40 thousand seniors and grandparents, from more than 20 countries (headed up by Italy, Spain, Argentina and the United States), will take part in the Day of 28 September: "The Blessing of Long Life." They will have the opportunity to prepare for a true dialogue with Pope Francis by participating in a moment of testimony, scheduled in St. Peter's Square from 8:30 to 9:30 am. This hour will have two parts: first, a path of seniority leading through five Biblical episodes will be followed, and then an elderly priest will talk—using only ten verbs—about the deep significance of the time of old age. These two moments will be linked by the story of a character, well known and loved by all Italian children: Gipo.
The five Biblical passages will focus especially on the figures of Sara (showing a way to approach the topic of the alleged uselessness / sterility of the elderly), then Naomi and Ruth (when a daughter-in-law does not abandon her mother-in-law), and finally the story of Eleazar will put the accent on the responsibility of each elderly person towards the younger generation and the transmission of the faith. Then, last two stages of the journey through Scripture will be in the New Testament, where Zechariah / Elizabeth and Simeon / Anna will present to today’s seniors a twofold teaching: on the one hand, how to grow old together, thus accomplishing God’s will, and, on the other, the zeal to express gratitude for a life wholly dedicated to the Lord.
Also in the context of that Day of celebration and prayer, an elderly couple—Iraqi refugees from Qaraqosh (of the Diocese of Mosul)—will greet the Pope and represent the voice of the many elderly people who are suffering in zones of conflict. The opening music, at the arrival of the Holy Father, will be executed live by Andrea Bocelli. In addition to these initiatives, others will also express with joy and conviction: "Best wishes to you grandparents."