Pope Francis leaves today on the journey that, until December 6, will take him first to Cyprus and then to Greece, with a final stop on the island of Lesbos, which he already visited in April 2016. It is the 35th journey of his pontificate, which it will raise the number of countries visited by Bergoglio to 55. The first day includes meetings with Catholic clergy and institutional authorities today in Cyprus. This morning at 11.00 the departure will take place – for the first time with Ita Airways after Alitalia’s departure – from Fiumicino to Larnaca, where the Pope will land at 15.00 local time, welcomed at the airport by the President of the Cypriot Parliament, Annita Demetriou. Moving to the capital Nicosia, at 4.00 pm Francis will meet priests, religious men and women, deacons, catechists, ecclesial associations and movements in the Maronite Cathedral of Our Lady of Grace. At 5.15 pm, the welcome ceremony at the Presidential Palace, followed by a courtesy visit to the President of the Republic Nikos Anastasiades, and at 6.00 pm by the meeting with the authorities, civil society and the Diplomatic Corps. Then the arrival at the Apostolic Nunciature where the Pontiff will stay in his stay in the divided island: the building is located in the so-called “no man’s land”, an area controlled by the United Nations, located along the “green line”, between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot military forces.
The stages of the trip to Cyprus
Bergoglio is the second Pontiff in the two countries: Benedict XVI had already been to Cyprus in 2010, John Paul II had made a stop in Greece in 2001. During the trip, eleven speeches by the Pope – all in Italian – are scheduled in five days. Tomorrow, on the second day, at 8.30 a courtesy visit to Chrysostomos II, Orthodox archbishop of Cyprus, is scheduled, and at 9.00 the meeting with the Holy Synod at the Orthodox Cathedral in Nicosia. At 10.00 mass for the Catholic community at the ‘Gsp Stadium’ of the capital. In the afternoon at 4.00 pm, ecumenical prayer with migrants in the parish church of Santa Croce, also in Nicosia.
The stages of the trip to Greece
On Saturday 4, the Pope will leave Cyprus for Greece. After the farewell ceremony at Larnaca airport, departure for Athens is scheduled at 9.30, arriving in the Hellenic capital at 11.10 local time and official reception at the airport in the presence of Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. The welcome ceremony at the Presidential Palace of Athens will follow at 12.00, the courtesy visit to the President of the Republic Ekaterini Sakellaropoulou at 12.15, the meeting with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at 12.30, and the meeting with the authorities and the civil society. In the afternoon at 16.00 a courtesy visit to Ieronymos II, archbishop of Athens and of all Greece, at the Orthodox Archbishopric. At 5.15 pm, also in Athens, the meeting with the bishops, priests, religious and seminarians in the Cathedral of San Dionigi, and at 6.45 pm the private meeting with the members of the Society of Jesus at the Apostolic Nunciature. Sunday 5, the Pope’s visit to the island of Lesbos and the meeting with the refugees who are hosted there. The Pope’s departure by plane from Athens is scheduled at 9.15 am, arriving at Mytilene airport at 10.10 am. Francesco will then go to the “Reception and Identification Center” of Mavrovouni, where at 10.45 he will visit the refugees. At 12.15 the return flight to Athens, arriving at 13.10. In the afternoon, in the Hellenic capital, at 4.45 pm mass in the “Megaron Concert Hall” and at 7.00 pm the courtesy visit that the Orthodox Archbishop Ieronymos II will make to the Pontiff at the Nunciature. The trip will end on Monday 6 December, when the Pope will receive a visit from the President of Parliament Konstantinos Tasoulas in Athens at 8.15 am at the Nunciature. The meeting with the young people at the Scuola San Dionigi of the Ursuline Sisters in Maroussi will follow at 9.45, the farewell ceremony at 11.15 at Athens airport, and at 11.30 the departure for Rome-Ciampino, with arrival scheduled at 12.35.