Pope Francis is seriously considering a trip to Mexico in 2016, the vice director of the Holy See Press Office told CNA today. Italian priest Fr. Ciro Benedettini said that the trip could take place in the first half of next year, and that if it does, we can expect the agenda to be released in November. Mexico would be Pope Francis’ fourth trip to the Americas, the first being to Brazil for World Youth Day in August 2013. His second visit took place this summer when he traveled to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay July 5-13, while the third was his recent Sept. 19-27 visit to the United States and Cuba. Pope Francis has spoken of his desire to go to Mexico before, indicating that he would like to spend a full week there. In a lengthy interview he gave to Mexican multimedia group Televisa in March, Pope Francis spoke of his visit to the U.S., where he symbolically wanted to enter from the country’s border with Mexico. When asked by journalist Valentina Alazraki why he ultimately chose not to go to Mexico as part of his trip to the U.S. in September, Francis said, “I thought about doing it, because I wanted to enter the United States from the Mexican border. But…how can one go from there and not come to see the Se√±ora, the Mother!” — a reference to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Francis said that if he went to Mexico he would have to visit the image, and explained that he cannot visit Mexico “just for a bit. Mexico requires a week.” “So I promise a trip to Mexico as it deserves, and not to hurry and pass through. It's because of this I decided not to go to Mexico.” Our Lady of Guadalupe is a title given to Mary after she appeared to St. Juan Diego in 1531 on the Hill of Tepeyac, later to become a part of the Villa de Guadalupe in Mexico City, telling him to have the city’s bishop build a church in the place of her appearance. When the bishop asked for a sign, Mary told Juan Diego to pick roses that were found growing on the hillside, even though it was the middle of winter. She arranged the roses in his tilma — a poncho-like cape made of cactus fiber — and when Juan Diego dropped them in front of the bishop, an image of Mary exactly as Juan had described appeared on the tilma. The image is still housed in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.
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