Pope Francis might soon visit the Great Mosque of Rome.
The Italian ANSA News Agency had reported, and the Vatican today affirmed, that before the general audience this morning, the Pope received a delegation from the mosque, which officially extended the invitation.
The visit would be in the context of the Jubilee of Mercy. In the Bull of Convocation of the jubilee, Francis pointed out that the concept of mercy is common to both religions.
The Great Mosque of Rome is the largest Muslim temple in the West, with a capacity for 12,000 faithful, and 40,000 on particular feasts. It is also the headquarters of the Muslim Cultural Center of Italy. Financed by King Faysal of Saudi Arabia, the first stone of the Mosque was laid in 1984 and the inauguration took place on June 21, 1995.
Last Sunday, on the occasion of the Pope’s visit to the Synagogue of Rome, Imam Yahya Pallavicini, vice president of the Muslim Religious Community, expressed the desire that the Holy Father visit the Mosque. “I wish it and I work for it,” he said to the media.
Pallavicini, together with Abdellah Redouane, director of the Muslim Cultural Center of Italy, who runs the Mosque of Rome, and several ambassadors and representatives of the Administration Council of the Great Mosque, presented the invitation to the Pope today.
Francis would be the first pontiff to visit the Mosque of Rome.
The first pope to enter a Muslim temple was Saint John Paul II in Damascus, on May 6, 2001; it was the Mosque of Omayyadi. Benedict XVI visited the Blue Mosque in Turkey on November 30, 2006. Pope Francis also was there on November 29, 2014, and last November 30 he visited the main Mosque of Koudoukou in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, as part of his apostolic journey to Africa.