Pope Francis arrived in Sofia at 9.50 local time on Sunday. A few minutes later, Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Anselmo Guido Pecorari, and the Head of Protocol came on board to greet the Pope. Descending the steps of the aircraft, the Holy Father shook hands with Bulgarian Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov. He caressed 4 children in traditional dress who greeted him with flowers at the start of his 3-day visit to Bulgaria and North Macedonia, in what is the 29th apostolic journey abroad.
Accompanied by the Prime Minister and walking on a red carpet to a guard of honour, arrived at the Governmental Lounge of Sofia airport, where he had a brief private conversation with Borisov.
Pope Francis arrived in Bulgaria after a 2-hour flight from Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci airport on an Alitalia Airbus A321 aircraft.
During his flight, the Holy Father met reporters on board who gifted him a T-shirt from the Bulgarian national football team that is made up of homeless people.
He had special words of greetings for Aura Miguel, the Portuguese journalist of Radio Renascença, who today boarded a papal ﬂight for the hundredth time.
Introducing the meeting with reporters, the interim director of the Holy See Press Ofﬁce, Alessandro Gisotti, first recalled the two saints who were somehow the protagonists of the trip – St. Pope John XXIII who was the papal representative in Bulgaria for nearly 10 years, and St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who was born in Skopje, in what is North Macedonia today. Gisotti them mentioned Aura Miguel.
Pope Francis, hearing her name, recalled her Portuguese origin and the journalists applauded their travelling colleague.
The Holy Father thanked the journalists for their work and "for the company". He added: “It will be a short trip, just three days” but the organizers have made them “full” of meetings and appointments.
As usual, the Pontiff went about greeting the reporters, photographers and cameramen one by one.
Bulgarian journalists donated him a T-shirt of the Bulgarian national football team of the homeless with the words, “Team of hope Bulgaria. 3. Francis” emblazoned on it. A Bulgarian TV offered
an ancient stamp, while other journalists gave the Pope messages and some of them gave him drawings made for him by their children. Among the gifts offered was a book on China.