Pope Francis boards an Alitalia airplane at Rome's Fiumicino International Airport


Pope Francis Arrives in Nairobi

Before Heading to Official Welcome Ceremony at State House, Holy Father Receives Warm Welcome Full of Chants and Dancing at Airport

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The first Pope from the Americas has kicked off his first Apostolic Visit to Africa, the continent where the Church is growing most rapidly in the world.

Pope Francis’ flight touched down early, about 4:30 p.m. local time, in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, where he was welcomed by the nation’s President, Uhuru Kenyatta. The Holy Father received a warm welcome from local religious leaders and by crowds who were chanting, singing, and dancing. It was a very festive atmosphere.

The last Pope to visit Kenya was Pope John Paul II, who traveled to the country three times in 1980, 1985 and 1995.

Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, visited Africa in 2009, but he went to Angola and Cameroon.

Before being taken by car to the State House for an official welcome ceremony, Pope Francis signed a visitor’s book and met privately with President Kenyatta for a few minutes. 

After the welcome ceremony, the Pope will meet with the civil authorities of Kenya and with the diplomatic corps.

Tomorrow, the Pontiff will begin his day with an interreligious and ecumenical meeting at the apostolic nunciature in Nairobi, which will be followed by a Mass on the campus of the University of Nairobi. After the Mass, Francis will meet with clergy, religious men and women, and seminarians at the athletic field of St Mary’s School, before visiting the United Nations Office in Nairobi.
Friday morning, he will visit the poor neighborhood of Kangemi in Nairobi, meet with young people in Kasarani Stadium, and meet with the nation’s bishops. Then, there will be the farewell ceremony at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport before he takes off for the second leg of his visit, to Uganda. After Uganda, the Pope will head to the Central African Republic, before his return to Rome on Monday.


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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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