By Alex DeMetrick

WASHINGTON (WJZ) — One week from today, Pope Francis will be meeting with the president at the White House. With the pope’s arrival rapidly approaching, the clock is running out for last minute preps.

WJZ will be in Washington, D.C. for the pope’s first historic visit.

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Alex DeMetrick has more on the work underway at Catholic University in preparation.

Catholic University is hosting a papal mass next Wednesday, Sept. 23. It’s working to get as many people as possible in to see Pope Francis.

The basilica at Catholic University is big, but it’s not big enough to hold a papal mass.

“If we were to do it inside, we would reduce dramatically the number of people who would be at the mass,” said D.C. Cardinal Donald Wuerl.

To open it up to 25,000 people, a stage is going up. The stage will hold the altar for Pope Francis’ mass on Wednesday.

It takes touches big and small for a job this unique.

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“It means a lot to me. I’ve never seen a pope before. I’d like to get a chance to see him. I know I probably won’t get to meet him, but, at least get a chance to see him,” said Edward Sloane, stage hand.

Scaffolding is going up on the university’s grass mall. The plan calls for 15,000 seats and room for 10,000 to stand.

On Wednesday, Cardinal Donald Wuerle of the Washington Archdiocese toured the site. He was with plenty of company.

“They’re converting the east portico of the basilica into its own small basilica. It’s a marvel,” Cardinal Wuerle said.

Pope Artist Rendering

An artist rendering shows the finished structure. The altar area–designed by the university’s architecture students.

“We saw from the very beginning how much of a once in a lifetime opportunity this was to design something for the pope,” said student Andrew Anderson.

Not all of the university’s students will get in. Tickets for the mass in the grass went by lottery.

“This is awesome. This is so cool to see everything. I’m so excited to get my ticket today,” said student Alexandra Kimble.

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Besides mass at the university, the pope will be visiting the White House. He will also become the first pope ever to address Congress.