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Schedule announced for Pope's Turkey trip

Francis to visit Blue Mosque, hold Mass in Istanbul cathedral
Schedule announced for Pope's Turkey trip

Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople (right) embrace during an ecumenical celebration in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, on May 25 (Photo by Paul Haring/CNS)

Published: October 22, 2014 05:07 AM GMT
Updated: October 21, 2014 06:07 PM GMT

The program has been announced for Pope Francis’ visit to Turkey. Although prayers and meetings with Orthodox leaders dominate the schedule of the November 28-30 trip, Francis will also meet government leaders and visit Istanbul's Blue Mosque.

His visit to this secular but Muslim country of nearly 77 million people also offers the opportunity for Pope Francis to join Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople for celebrations in Istanbul of the feast of St Andrew.

While the pope will pray with and meet privately with Patriarch Bartholomew on November 29 and attend his celebration of the November 30 feast day liturgy in Istanbul, Pope Francis also will visit the city's Hagia Sophia Museum, an architectural masterpiece once regarded as the finest church of the Christian Byzantine Empire. It was later converted into a mosque in the 15th century and then turned into a museum in 1935 after Turkey became a secular state.

Pope Francis will visit the grandiose Sultan Ahmet Mosque, or Blue Mosque, as it is often called because of the turquoise ceramic tiles that adorn the 400-year-old structure's interior.

The scheduled stops underline Turkey's varied cultural heritage and history as being at the crossroads of Christian Europe and the Muslim Middle East.

The first day of his trip, which will be spent in Ankara, the capital, will be dedicated to relations with the Turkish government, its office overseeing religious affairs and ambassadors serving in the country. The head of the department of religious affairs is Turkey's highest Muslim authority.


Full Story: In Turkey, pope will visit Blue Mosque, hold Mass in Istanbul cathedral

Source:Catholic News Service

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