There are about 17 days left to Papa Francis’ apostolic journey to Bulgaria.
Pope Francis will arrive on Bulgarian soil at 10:00 on May 5, accompanied by the Secretary of State for the Holy See and the Vatican’s top representatives, along with an official Vatican delegation, the Catholic Church said in a statement.
After the reception of the government VIP by Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, the Holy Father will head to the presidency where he will be welcomed with an official ceremony with military honor from the President of Bulgaria Rumen Radev in the presence of representatives of the authorities and the diplomatic corps. Pope Francis will then meet with the head of state and at 12 o’clock the conversation with Patriarch Neofit and the members of the Holy Synod. The Holy Father will visit the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevski, where he will pray before the iconostasis of the holy brothers Cyril and Methodius.
At 13:00, the Pope will speak from Sofia its traditional prayer “Queen of the Sky”, Regina coeli, with a message to the whole world that will be traced by millions of TV viewers.
The most significant and most mass event involving Pope Francis will be the Sunday Mass, which will be on Alexander Batenberg Square from 16:45 with more than 7,000 people participating.
The second day of the Holy Father’s visit to Bulgaria will begin with a brief visit in an informal atmosphere at a refugee center.
Then the Pope will travel to the town of Rakovski, where at 11:15 he will serve the liturgy for the first communion of Catholic children from all over Bulgaria. They and their parents await this tremendous event in their lives, noted the Catholic Church in Bulgaria. In the afternoon, at 15:30 in the neighborhood of Sekirovo there will be a meeting with the Catholic community in Bulgaria, a feast of faith for all Catholics in the country.
The visit of His Holiness will end with an event for peace in the presence of representatives of Bulgarian society and religious denominations, because he wants to make his appeal for peace around the world from Sofia, the statement said. In the center of the city, within walking distance are the Orthodox Cathedral of St. Nedelya, the catholic convent of St. Joseph, the Banya Bashi mosque and the synagogue. Six children, representatives of various denominations, will light six torches, a symbol that the light of peace is stronger than the darkness of violence.
Our wish and hope is the visit of Pope Francis to become a feast of faith, hope and love for every Bulgarian, the Catholic Church said. The Holy Father comes to us in the footsteps of Pope John XXIII, author of the encyclical Pacem in terris, whose name is the motto of the visit. He wants to be a peace ambassador, to show his respect for our homeland, to pray for peace and prosperity in Bulgaria and to give his blessing to every Bulgarian who wants it, the message says.