Final preparations in Cyprus for Pope's visit
By Nathan Morley, in Nicosia
Final preparations are being completed in the Cypriot capital of Nicosia ahead of a visit by Pope Francis due to begin on Thursday.
For the government of Cyprus, this visit constitutes an historic event.
According to the Cypriot Deputy Government Spokesman, 77 reporters will accompany the Pope's mission, while more than 200 journalists have been accredited to cover the event.
Although a brief trip, the final official schedule shows several events, including a Holy Mass at GSP sports stadium on the outskirts of Nicosia, a leading venue for international football matches.
Hundreds of Catholics, many of them travelling from throughout the Mediterranean region, are expected to attend the event.
Pope Francis will also meet with refugees and immigrants, followed by an Ecumenical prayer at the Catholic Church of the Holy Cross in Nicosia, a unique parish church where Mass is celebrated in eight different languages.
During the trip, the Holy Father will visit the Presidential Palace, where he will be greeted by President Nicos Anastasiades who is expected to brief him on protection of cultural heritage, efforts to promote interreligious dialogue, the on-going ‘Cyprus problem’ and the migration and refugee issue and human rights.
The challenges facing the world due to the new outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic will also be discussed.
Pope Francis will then visit Archbishop Chrysostomos II, the leader of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus and hold meetings with the leaders of the Catholic Church on the island.
This is the second Papal visit to Cyprus, after Benedict XVI successful journey in 2010 aimed at strengthening ties between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches.
Pope Francis will depart from Cyprus on 4 December to travel Athens.