Slovakia welcomed Pope Francis with open arms

Pope Francis made a four-day visit to Slovakia and was met by thousands

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Photo Credit: The Slovak Spectator/TASR

Pope Francis arrived in Slovakia on Sunday, September 12, and was greeted by hundreds of believers, politicians and representatives of the Church at Bratislava Airport. The Pope received bread and salt after his arrival and a bouquet of flowers typical for Slovakia. His visit to Slovakia and Bratislava also presented a unique opportunity for Slovakian event organisers to showcase their logistical and technical know-how.

The Pope was welcomed by esteemed individuals including the President Zuzana Čaputová, PM Eduard Heger (OĽaNO), Speaker of Parliament Boris Kollár (Sme Rodina), Foreign Affairs Minister Ivan Korčok (SaS nominee), Bratislava Mayor Matúš Vallo, the representatives of the Church, invited guests such as Ombudswoman Mária Patakyová, František Mikloško as a representative of the Catholic dissident movement during communism, and Holocaust survivor Herta Vyšná.

Čaputová said that the first words the Pope told her after his arrival was: “You invited me to Slovakia in December, and now I fulfil this promise.” She hopes his visit will contribute to reconciliation in society. The president met with Pope Francis at a private meeting held at the VIP lounge at the airport.

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Photo Credit: The Slovak Spectator/TASR

A pilgrim in Slovakia

Later in the afternoon, an ecumenical meeting was held at the apostolic nunciature in Bratislava. In his speech, held during the meeting, Pope Francis thanked the representatives of the Church for coming to meet him. He called himself “a pilgrim in Slovakia.” Pope Francis also mentioned in his speech the legacy of St Cyril and Methodius and their contribution to spreading Christianity.

Altogether, His Holiness spent four days in Slovakia and left on September 15. Apart from Bratislava, he also visited Prešov, Košice and Šaštín. Pope Francis embraced the most excluded members of society – he toured a homeless shelter and visited the impoverished Roma minority in Slovakia’s far east. Here, he visited the Luník IX neighbourhood, the largest segregated Roma community in Slovakia.

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Photo Credit: The Slovak Spectator/TASR

“I CARRY YOU ALL IN MY HEART,” THE POPE SAID AT THE END OF THE MASS IN ŠAŠTÍN.

In Košice, the Pope met with the youth and encouraged them not to succumb to pessimism and sadness. Moreover, he lit candles and paid his respects to the Holocaust victims after meeting with the Jewish community in Bratislava.

“I carry you all in my heart,” the Pope said at the end of the mass in Šaštín that he served earlier on Wednesday to bid farewell to the crowd and the whole country.

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Photo Credit: The Slovak Spectator/TASR

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