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Pope Kicks Off Visit Bulgaria and North Macedonia (Zenit Is on the Ground)

Francis’ 29th Apostolic Trip Means His First Travel Ever to Both Balkan Nations (Full Program Here)

Pope Francis has kicked off his first full day in Bulgaria, May 5-7, 2019, for his 29th Apostolic Visit to Bulgaria and the Republic of North Macedonia.

ZENIT’s Senior Vatican Correspondent, Deborah Lubov, is on the ground and bringing you the latest. Here is our interview with the President of the Bulgarian Bishops Conference, Bishop Christo Proykov.

Despite a delicate ecumenical situation in Bulgaria, Pope Francis is being welcomed with joy. The Pontiff was welcomed by little ones in traditional Bulgarian attire, when getting off his aircraft, met with the Prime Minister in Sofia Airport, and then made a courtesy visit to the Presidential Palace in Sofia, where he met with the President, and as is tradition, addressed authorities.

Afterward, the Pope and papal entourage met with the Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s Holy Synod, including Patriarch Neophyte, leader of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. Simeon II, last reigning Bulgarian Monarch and former Prime Minister was also present. Despite rain threats this morning, so far the weather has held out and stayed dry, during the Holy Father’s morning activities, including his Sunday Angelus.

Here is the full Vatican-provided program of the Pope’s agenda:

Sunday 5 May 2019

ROME-SOFIA

07:00 Departure by air from Rome-Fiumicino International Airport to Sofia
10:00 Arrival at Sofia International Airport
OFFICIAL WELCOME
MEETING WITH THE PRIME MINISTER in the Governmental Lounge of the Airport
WELCOME CEREMONY in the square adjacent to the Presidential Palace
COURTESY VISIT TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC in the Presidential Palace
MEETING with the AUTHORITIES, with CIVIL SOCIETY and the DIPLOMATIC CORPS in Atanas Burov Square Address of the Holy Father
VISIT TO THE PATRIARCH AND TO THE HOLY SYNOD in the Palace of the Holy Synod Address of the Holy Father
PRIVATE PRAYER BEFORE THE THRONE OF SAINTS CYRIL AND METHODIUS in the Patriarchal Cathedral of Saint Alexander Nevsky
REGINA COELI in Saint Alexander Nevsky Square Regina Coeli
16:45 HOLY MASS in Knyaz Alexandar SquareI Homily of the Holy Father
Monday 6 May 2019

SOFIA-RAKOVSKY-SOFIA

VISIT TO A REFUGEE CAMP
09:30 Departure by air from Rakovsky
HOLY MASS WITH FIRST COMMUNIONS in the Church of the Sacred Heart of Rakovsky Homily of the Holy Father
Lunch with the bishops of Bulgaria in the Convent of the Franciscan Sisters
MEETING WITH THE CATHOLIC COMMUNITY in the Church of Saint Michael Archangel in Rakovsky Address of the Holy Father
17:15 Departure by air for Sofia
PRAYER FOR PEACE PRESIDED AT BY THE HOLY FATHER IN THE PRESENCE OF LEADERS OF THE VARIOUS RELIGIOUS CONFESSIONS IN BULGARIA in Nezavisimost Square in Sofia Prayer of the Holy Father
Tuesday 7 May 2019

SOFIA-SKOPJE-ROME

FAREWELL CEREMONY in Sofia International Airport
08:20 Departure by air from Sofia Airport for Skopje
08:15 Arrival at Skopje International Airport
OFFICIAL WELCOME
WELCOME CEREMONY in the courtyard of the Presidential Palace
COURTESY VISIT TO THE PRESIDENT in the Presidential Palace
MEETING with the PRIME MINISTER in the Presidential Palace
MEETING with the AUTHORITIES, with CIVIL SOCIETY and with the DIPLOMATIC CORPS in the Mosaique Hall of the Presidential Palace Address of the Holy Father
VISIT TO THE MOTHER TERESA MEMORIAL WITH THE PRESENCE OF RELIGIOUS LEADERS AND MEETING WITH THE POOR Prayer of the Holy Father
HOLY MASS in Macedonia Square Homily of the Holy Father
Lunch with the Papal Entourage
ECUMENICAL AND INTERRELIGIOUS MEETING WITH YOUNG PEOPLE in the Pastoral Centre Address of the Holy Father
MEETING WITH PRIESTS, THEIR FAMILIES, AND RELIGIOUS in the Cathedral Address of the Holy Father
FAREWELL CEREMONY at Skopje International Airport
18:30 Departure of Papal aircraft for Rome-Ciampino
20:30 Arrival at Roma-Ciampino International Airport

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: President of Bulgarian Bishops, Bishop Proykov of Sofia, on Pope’s Visit to Bulgaria (ZENIT Is on the Ground)

About Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is a 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 four languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, at times from the papal flight, and has done television and radio commentary, including for Vatican Radio and BBC. She is a contributor to National Catholic Register, UK Catholic Herald, Our Sunday Visitor, Inside the Vatican, and other Catholic news outlets. She has also collaborated with the Vatican in various projects, including an internship at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and is a collaborator with NBC Universal, NBC News, Euronews, and EWTN. 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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