Vatican Confirms Pope Francis to Visit South Caucasus

TBILISI - The Vatican’s press service confirmed Monday that Pope Francis will visit Georgia and neighboring Azerbaijan from September 30 to October 2.

The Pope’s trip to the two strategic South Caucasus comes just three months after a planned visit to Armenia in June, his first to the region.

Following the Vatican’s official announcement, Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili released a statement saying the Pope’s visit marks an important event in Georgia’s history.

Margvelashvili previously visited the Vatican and met with Francis in April 2015 to discuss Georgia’s relations with the EU and its place in the Christian world.

During the visit, Francis presented Margvelashvili with the St. Martin Medal as a defender of his people. Margvelashvili returned the honor by presenting Francis with a copy of a bas-relief from Georgia’s Jvari Monastery in Mtshkheta.

Since becoming Pope in 2013, Francis has become one the most travelled pontiffs in history. In 2015, he made extensive official visits to Africa, Latin America and the United States.

His next visit will be to the Greek island of Lesbos on April 16, where he will discuss immigrant rights.

Pope Francis will travel to Poland in July to participate in World Youth Day, the world’s largest gathering of Catholic youth.

Francis originally said he hoped to travel to the Caucasus during a November 2015 press conference while on a flight from Central Africa.

By Tamar Svanidze

Edited by Nicholas Waller

Photo: Gazette Review

11 April 2016 12:12