Bucharest, Bacau, Sumuleu-Ciuc, Iasi, Sibiu, Blaj: these are the stages in Romania of Pope Francis’ 30th Apostolic Journey, from May 31 to June 2 — a “Marian” and “Ecumenical” journey.
The great number of places to be visited is explained by the Holy Father’s desire to discover “the ethnic, cultural and religious richness of Romania,” known as the “Garden of the Mother of God,” said the interim Director of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti at a press conference on May 29, 2019.
Gisotti presented the detailed program of the Pope’s three-day visit, which will have a predominant “Marian note,” as shown in the visit’s logo, which represents the Virgin Mary and the People of God walking under Her protection.
Another particularity of the journey is its “ecumenical accent,” in a country that is 87% Orthodox.
Friday, May 31, the Pontiff will land at 11:30 am at the Henri Coanda-Otopeni International Airport of Bucharest, the country’s capital and largest city. Romanian President Klaus Werner Iohannis and his wife will welcome him. The presence of the Head of State at the foot of the aircraft’s gangway is “a sign of the particular attention” accorded to the Pope’s visit.
After the welcoming ceremony in the Presidential Palace and the meeting with Prime Minister, Mrs Vasilica Viorica Dancila, the Pope will deliver his first address (eight are scheduled in the course of the visit) to the Authorities, the civil society and the Diplomatic Corps.
In the afternoon, the Pope will meet privately with Patriarch Daniel in the Palace of the Romanian Orthodox Patriarchate, followed by a meeting with the Permanent Synod, and the Our Father prayed together in the new Orthodox Cathedral of Salvation of the Romanian nation.
Pope Francis’ first day in Romania will end with the celebration of Mass in Saint Joseph’s Catholic Cathedral.
Saturday, June 1, the Pope will leave Bucharest at 9:30 am to go to Bacau, in the Romanian Moldavian region, at the foot of the Carpathians, as well as the air-base of the Miercurea-Ciuc mountain brigade.
He will celebrate Mass at 11: 30 am in the Sumuleu-Ciuc Shrine, a historic place of pilgrimage of Hungarian-speaking Catholics of Romania and other countries.
The Marian church, located in the interior of a Franciscan monastery, bears the title “Minor Basilica” and houses a precious lime wooden statue of the Blessed virgin Mary, made between 1515 and 1520, which survived a fire in 1661.
In the afternoon, the Pontiff will go to the Saint Mary Queen of Iasi Cathedral in Iasi, the most important political, economic and cultural center of the Romanian Moldavian province as well as one of Romania’s oldest cities.
A Memorial dedicated to Blessed Anton Durcovici (1888-1951), Bishop of Iasi martyred in 1951, is in the basement of the Cathedral.
Before returning to Bucharest, the Pope will attend a Marian meeting with young people and families, which will be held in the Square in front of the Palace of Culture.
Sunday, June 2, Pope Francis will go to the region of Transylvania, where he will celebrate the Divine Liturgy at 11:00 am with the Beatification of the seven Greek-Catholic martyrs in the Freedom Field at Blaj.
In this place, on May 15, 1848, over 40,000 people gathered to affirm their national conscience and demand the recognition of the Romanian people as a nation, as well as freedom and equality of civil rights.
This same place is a symbol, for Greek-Catholic faithful, of the struggle for spiritual freedom: found here is the Memorial of the martyrs that perished for the faith during the Communist dictatorship.
Before returning to Rome, the Holy Father will meet with the Rom community of Blaj, in the district of Barbu Lautaru.