AN ICON of the Holy Family which has been created for the World Meeting of Families event in Ireland - which Pope Francis is due to attend - is touring parishes across Down and Connor this week.
The icon has been specially commissioned by the World Meeting of Families, ahead of the five-day event in Dublin next August.
It is accompanied by petition boxes, where families can write their intentions, with contemplative communities around Ireland due to pray for the intentions collected during the coming year.
The World Meeting of Families said it is hoped that the icon will "encourage reflection and prayer as part of the journey of preparations".
The icon was unveiled and anointed by Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, at Knock in August.
Last Saturday, it arrived at the Down and Connor 'Faith and Life' convention at Our Lady and St Patrick's College in east Belfast, and travelled to the Holy Family Parish in the north of the city on Monday.
Today it will move to Corpus Christi in the Springfield area of west Belfast, before heading to Maghera Parish in Newcastle, Co Down, on Friday.
It will leave Down and Connor on Saturday and travel to the Diocese of Elphin in the west of Ireland.
Speaking at the 'Faith and Life' convention at the weekend, Cardinal Kevin Farrell said that the Pope is expected to attend the Festival of Families event and a Mass to conclude the gathering in Dublin next year.
However, the pontiff has yet to decide if he will visit the north, amidst speculation that he will visit Armagh, the historical seat of the Catholic Church in Ireland.
Cardinal Farrell, who is co-ordinating the Pope's visit, said that he did not think that the issue had been discussed yet and added that Pope Francis usually decides his schedule about six months in advance.
There was huge disappointment during the last papal visit to Ireland in 1979 when Pope John Paul II decided against travelling north due to the political situation.
Meanwhile, St Patrick's Church in Belfast will host the first in an all-Ireland series of talks by a priest who is the author of a best-selling book on consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Fr Michael Gaitley from the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, who is based in Massachusetts in the US, will give the first of his talks on 'Mary and Mercy' in the Donegall Street parish on Friday at 7.30pm.
Fr Gaitley will speak in Waterford, Cork and Knock before finishing his tour promoting national consecration in St Columba's Church in Derry on Tuesday evening.
His book, '33 Days of Morning Glory', detailing a 'do-it-yourself' retreat-styled personal consecration to Mary, is understood to have sold more than two million copies worldwide.
Volunteers across Ireland are aiming to distribute one million free copies of the book to enable people to undertake the 33 days consecration, beginning on November 5 and ending on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8.