Vatican City, Oct 21, 2014 / 07:52 am .- In response to an invitation sent by Patriarch Bartolomeo I of Constantinople, Pope Francis will make a three-day trip to Turkey, during which he will visit the cities of Ankara and Istanbul.
Announced in September following the reception of an official letter of invitation signed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the trip will take place Nov. 28-30, and falls just days after Pope Francis’ Nov. 25 address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
The visit was largely made in response to an invitation sent to Pope Francis by Patriarch Bartolomeo I asking him to participate in the celebration of the feast of St. Andrew, who is the founder of the Eastern Church and patron of the Orthodox world.
In stark contrast with his previous trips, usually packed with various liturgies, audiences and meetings with diverse groups of people, Pope Francis is keeping his schedule light, and will only give 3 public speeches, one being a homily for Mass on the second day of his trip.
After departing from Rome’s Fiumicino airport at 9 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 28, the Roman Pontiff will fly directly to the Turkish capital of Ankara, where he will receive an official welcoming ceremony at the airport.
He will then make his way to the Atatürk Mausoleum, and afterwards will go to the presidential palace, where he will pay a courtesy visit to the Turkish president and hold an audience with local authorities. He will also visit with Turkey’s Prime Minister and President of Religious Affairs that afternoon.
The following day the Bishop of Rome will travel by plane to Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, where he will visit the historic Hagia Sophia museum, which is a former Greek Orthodox patriarchal basilica that was later transformed into an imperial mosque.
He will then visit the historic Sultan Ahmet Mosque, also known as the “Blue Mosque” due to the blue tiles covering the inside.
After his visit to these two historically significant sites, the Pope will celebrate Mass in Istanbul’s Cathedral of the Holy Spirit. He will then participate in an ecumenical prayer at the Patriarchal church of St. George, after which he will have a private encounter with His Holiness Bartholomew I.
On his final day in Turkey Pope Francis will hold a private Mass in the morning before praying the Divine Liturgy at the Patriarchal church of St. George and signing a joint declaration with Bartolomeo I.
After having lunch with the patriarch, Pope Francis will head back to Istanbul’s Atatürk airport, and will land at Rome’s Ciampino airport at 6:40 p.m.
Please see below for the full itinerary of Pope Francis’ visit to Turkey:
Friday, Nov. 28, 2014
9:00a.m. Depart by plane from Rome’s Fiumicino Airport
1:00p.m. Arrive to Ankara’s Esembo?a Airport
Visit to Atatürk Mausoleum
Courtesy visit to the president of the Republic
Encounter with authorities
Audience with Prime Minister
Visit to the president of Religious Affairs at Diyanet
Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014
9:30a.m. Depart by plan from Ankara’s Esembo?a Airport
10:30a.m. Arrive to the international Atatürk Airport of Istanbul
Visit to the Saint Sofia Museum
Visit to the Sultan Ahmet Mosque
Holy Mass in the Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Spirit
Ecumenical Prayer in the Patriarchal church of St. George
Private Encounter with His Holiness Bartholomew I in the Patriarchal Palace
Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014
Holy Mass in private in the Apostolic Delegation
Diving Liturgy in the Patriarchal church of St. George
Ecumenical Blessing and signing of the Joint Declaration
Lunch between Pope Francis and His Holiness Bartolomeo I at the Ecumenical Patriarchate
4:45p.m. Leave for the Atatürk Airport of Istanbul
5:00p.m. Departure by plane from the international Atatürk Airport of Istanbul
6:40p.m. Arrive at Rome’s Ciampino Airport