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Rome 2020 1.19.2020

What's an 'Ad Limina' visit? Here are 10 things you need to know

On January 19-25, the Bishops from Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas will travel to Rome for their 'Ad Limina' visits. Here's some helpful information to better understand the significance of this important visit:

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. 

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. The bishops will also meet with officials from many of the departments and offices in the Roman Curia. In addition, information from the quinquennial report submitted by the diocese in June is discussed during the visit with the Holy Father and other officials. 

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 teachings of the Church, the financial state of the diocese and more. The chapters roughly correspond to the departments and offices of the Vatican. 

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 Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Among those traveling to Rome for this important visit will be our Chief Shepherd, Bishop Edward J. Burns. 

Is this Bishop Burns’ first Ad Limina visit? 

No, this will be his second Ad Limina visit. As Bishop of Juneau, Alaska Bishop Burns participated in the 2012 Ad Limina visit for that region.  

What about the auxiliary bishop? 

Due to a broken ankle sustained in a car accident, Bishop Greg Kelly is unable to attend the Ad Limina visit. Please pray for his speedy recovery. 

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. 

Where can I learn more about the Ad Limina visit? 

Videos featuring Bishop Burns, along with other information about the Ad Limina visit, will be available beginning on Friday, January 17th on the diocesan website,, as well as Facebook at and on Vimeo at This will be an excellent opportunity to inform the Catholic faithful about the importance of the Ad Limina visit and the information about our diocese delivered to our Holy Father and his message back to us.    

The Texas Catholic will have full coverage of the visit in its January 25th and February 8th editions.