Pope Francis will visit the Cypriot capital of Nicosia from December 2-4, before visiting the Greek capital, Athens, and the island of Lesbos.
By Devin Watkins
The Holy See’s Press Office officially announced on Friday that the Pope would undertake a 5-day apostolic trip to Cyprus and Greece in early December.
The visit will see him spend December 2-4 in Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus.
He will then travel to Greece on December 4, visiting Athens and Lesvos until December 6, when he will return to Rome.
According to the Press Office of the Holy See, the Pope is undertaking the apostolic journey to Cyprus and Greece at the invitation of the civil authorities of the countries and of the Episcopal Conferences.
The full program of the visit will be published in due course.
Second papal visit to Cyprus
Pope Francis’ visit to Cyprus will see him follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who made an apostolic journey to the Mediterranean island nation in 2010.
The vast majority of Cypriots identify as Greek Orthodox, but the nation has a vibrant Catholic community of around 11,000 faithful. Many of them find their roots in the Crusaders who settled there after the fall of Jerusalem in the 12the century.
Saint Paul stopped in Cyprus in the first century AD and converted the island’s Roman governor, Sergius Paulus, to Christianity.
Tradition has it that Saint Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead, fled to Cyprus fearing persecution and was ordained bishop of Kition by the apostles Barnabas and Paul. His tomb is located under the Byzantine-era church of Saint Lazarus in the southern town of Larkaka.
Back to Lesbos
The Pope’s trip to Greece will be his second, following his one-day visit to the Greek island of Lesvos in 2016.
During this trip, Pope Francis visited the Moria refugee camp with the Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, and the Archbishop of Athens and all Greece, Ieronymos II.
He returned to the Vatican with 3 Syrian refugee families, offering asylum to all 12, including 6 children.
Moria refugee camp was closed in September 2020 after a fire broke out and destroyed much of it.