Pope starts ‘spiritual’ pilgrimage to Hungary and Slovakia

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Vatican News -Pope Francis’ 34th journey abroad, which also marks 54 countries visited around the world, aims to be “a pilgrimage to the heart of Europe, during which the Pope will address issues that affect the entire continent”. But above all, it is intended to be “a spiritual journey”, which begins with the adoration of the Eucharist and ends with the prayerful invocation of Our Lady of Sorrows who, in this century, has never stopped watching over the Slavic lands wounded by totalitarianism. In these few ideas, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni, sums up the four days that Francis will spend, from 12 to 15 September, first in Budapest, to celebrate the closing of the International Eucharistic Congress; and then in Slovakia, with stops in the capital, Bratislava, and in three other cities: Prešov, Košice, and Šaštin.

The trip has a strong spiritual connotation. For this reason, it is a good idea “to avoid mixing other kinds of readings with the more spiritual one”, said Bruni, in response to questions from journalists gathered in the Vatican Press Office for the conference presenting the trip. Questions focused in particular on the Pope’s meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on Sunday morning, before the Mass in Heroes’ Square. “It is a meeting with the highest authorities of the country, and evidently Orban among them”, Bruni said, explaining further that the presence of the prime minister with his family at the papal Mass “will be confirmed by the Hungarians.”

“It is a pilgrimage in honour of the Blessed Sacrament”, remarked the Vatican spokesman, recalling that the genesis of this trip can be traced back precisely to the Pope’s desire to be close to the hundreds of men and women who, since last Sunday, have taken part in the Eucharistic Congress. In particular, it goes back to his desire to preside at the final Mass, called a Statio Orbis because it was celebrated as though it brought together the entire Christian world, both “imaginatively and in spirit”.

Vatican News

File Photo Pope Francis greets faithful during his weekly general audience in the Paolo VI Hall, Vatican City, 8 September 2021. EPA-EFE/MAURIZIO BRAMBATTI