Bratislava, September 12 (TASR) – Pope Francis has arrived on Sunday afternoon to visit the Slovak Republic, TASR learnt on the same day.
The Holy Father was welcomed at M.R. Stefanik Airport in Bratislava by the most supreme constitutional officials with a delegation and the Slovak bishops.
Pope Francis’ apostolic tour in Slovakia will last four days.
The pope arrived with his official delegation and 80 reporters. He was welcomed at the airport at the foot of the front steps of the plane by President Zuzana Caputova together with ombudswoman Maria Patakyova, Catholic dissident Frantisek Miklosko, Holocaust survivor Herta Vysna and Maria Jasenkova, the head of the civic association Flame aimed at developing children’s home palliative care.
Prime Minister Eduard Heger (OLaNO), Parliamentary Chair Boris Kollar (We Are Family) as well as several Slovak bishops welcomed him at the airport. Slovak Foreign Minister Ivan Korcok (an SaS nominee) and Bratislava mayor Matus Vallo were present too.
According to a tradition, members of the children’s folklore ensemble Lucka in traditional costumes from Vazec welcomed the Pope with bread and salt. The Holy Father also received a bouquet of original Slovak species of plants and herbs. At the airport, there are also about 500 believers from the parish in the Bratislava borough of Vajnory, where Pope John Paul II celebrated the Holy Mass in 1990.
In December you invited me to Slovakia and today I’m fulfilling this promise, these were Pope Francis’ first words after his arrival in Slovakia, which he addressed to President Zuzana Caputova, the head of state said in a statement at Bratislava Airport on Sunday. The president was honoured and pleased to be able to welcome the Holy Father to Slovakia. “In the time we live in, marked by pain, sadness, the division of society, his arrival can be really helpful for bonding, reconciliation and peace,” said Caputova.
The Holy Father is a man of love, humility, respect and human dignity, Prime Minister Eduard Heger (OLaNO) stated before Pope Francis’ arrival at Bratislava Airport on Sunday. “What I want the Pope to leave in Slovakia is peace, and I believe he’ll bring it into politics as well, and most importantly, it’ll help us bounce back and look ahead,” said Heger, adding that he has high expectations related to the Pope’s visit and it’s a significant event for Slovakia.
I believe that during his visit to Slovakia Pope Francis will calm the society that is very divided, Parliamentary Chair Boris Kollar (We Are Family) stated before the Pope’s arrival at Bratislava Airport on Sunday. “I’d like us to calm the situation, and I’m convinced that the Holy Father’s visit can calm it down,” said Kollar.
Pope Francis will stay in Slovakia until September 15. In addition to Bratislava, he’ll also visit Kosice, Presov and Sastin (Trnava region). He’s scheduled to meet the country’s top three constitutional officials as well as representatives of the Jewish and Roma communities. A Holy Mass with a homily given by the pope will take place in Sastin.