Pope to visit Cyprus and Greece in early December
By Devin Watkins
The Holy See Press Office officially announced on Friday that the Pope will embark on a 5-day Apostolic Journey to Cyprus and Greece in early December.
The visit will see him spend 2-4 December in Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus.
He will then head to Greece on 4 December, visiting Athens and Lesbos until 6 December, when he will return to Rome.
According to the Holy See Press Office, the Pope is undertaking the Apostolic Journey to Cyprus and Greece upon the invitation of the countries’ civil authorities and Bishops’ Conferences.
The full schedule of the visit will be released in due course.
Second papal visit to Cyprus
Pope Francis’ visit to Cyprus will see him follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who made an Apostolic Journey to the Mediterranean island nation in 2010.
The vast majority of Cypriots identify as Greek Orthodox, but the nation has a vibrant Catholic community of around 11,000 faithful. Many of them trace their roots back Crusaders who settled there after the fall of Jerusalem in the 12th century.
St. Paul stopped off in Cyprus in the first century AD, and converted the island’s Roman governor Sergius Paulus to Christianity.
Tradition holds that St. Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead, fled to Cyprus fearing persecution and was ordained as Bishop of Kition by the Apostles Barnabas and Paul. His tomb lies under the Byzantine-era church of Saint Lazarus in the southern city of Larkaka.
Returning to Lesbos
The Pope’s trip to Greece will be his second, following his 1-day visit to the Greek island of Lesbos in 2016.
During that trip, Pope Francis visited the refugee camp of Moria with the Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, and the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, Ieronymos II.
He flew back to the Vatican with 3 families of Syrian refugees, offering asylum to all 12 of them, including 6 children.
The Moria Refugee Camp was closed down in September 2020, after a fire broke out and destroyed much of it.