A parade of 40 elephants welcomed Pope Francis on his Apostolic Visit to Sri Lanka. Upon leaving Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo, the Holy Father boarded the popemobile to begin the 17 mile (28 km) trek towards the Apostolic Nunciature. Hundreds of people and elephants dressed in Sri Lankan ceremonial colors lined the streets to greet the Argentinian Pontiff on his 7thinternational trip.
With temperatures reaching over 85 ⁰F (30 ⁰C) and the extended time delay of the motorcade, the Pope’s meeting with the Bishops of Sri Lanka was cancelled.
According to journalists aboard the papal flight, the Holy See explained that “the Pope was more than an hour and a half behind schedule and for this reason the meeting scheduled for 1:15 pm (local time) was cancelled.”
In a statement released shortly after, the Holy See stated that Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, along with several Cardinals and Bishops accompanying the Pope, went instead to greet the Bishops, priests, seminarians and religious of Sri Lanka.
Upon his arrival at the Apostolic Nunciature, Pope Francis celebrated a private Mass and had lunch with several prelates. In the afternoon, the Holy Father will make his way to the presidential palace where he will be received by newly-elected President Maithrapala Sirisena. There he will hold a private meeting with the head of State before heading to Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall for an Interreligious Meeting.