By Linda Bordoni
The papal plane that departed from Rome at 6.09am local time, is taking Pope Francis to Budapest, where he is scheduled to land at 7,45am for the first leg of his journey.
Here he will meet with authorities before presiding over the concluding Mass of the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress in the Hungarian capital’s Heroes Square.
He is scheduled to spend about 7 hours in the country before taking a short flight to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, on Sunday afternoon.
That leg of the Pope’s Apostolic Journey will last until Wednesday.
One highlight of his visit to Slovakia wil be the celebration of Mass at the National Shrine of Šaštin, on the feast day of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows, Patron saint of Slovakia.
Pope Francis’ pilgrimage, said Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin in an interview with Vatican News on the eve of the journey, is a way of entrusting “to Her all those who find themselves in situations of fragility, of vulnerability, of suffering, including physical suffering, as he has been going through in this period, especially taking into account the situation brought on by the pandemic.”
The four dimensions of the visit
Presenting the visit to journalists at a briefing in the Vatican, Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni said the visit can be seen as a pilgrimage with four dimensions: a spiritual dimension centered on the Eucharist; an ecumenical dimension when he meets leaders of the other Christian churches and recalls the shared Christian heritage in Hungary and Slovakia that is linked to saints, Cyril and Methodius, who evangelized these peoples; an interreligious dimension represented by the meetings with leaders of the Jewish community in both capital cities; and a missionary dimension during which the Pope will evoke the heroic witness of faith and martyrdom given by Hungarian and Slovak Catholics who suffered persecution under the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century.