Pope Francis heads out on intense three-day trip to Romania on Friday

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Pope Francis travels to Romania from Friday to Sunday. He will be following in the footsteps of John Paul II who was there in 1999, as the first pope to visit an Orthodox-majority country.

'I will go to Romania, a beautiful and welcoming country, as a pilgrim and brother.'

In this video message, Pope Francis addresses Romanians a couple days before starting his 30th international trip.

On Friday, May 31, he will arrive in Bucharest where he will meet with the country's civil authorities. Then he will meet the Orthodox Patriarch of Romania, Daniel, and the Permanent Synod of the Romanian Church. It will be an important moment because relations between them are a bit cold.

He will visit and pray with the patriarch at the new Orthodox Cathedral. It is an impressive building that John Paul II donated close to $200,000 to help build. The day will conclude with a Mass at the Catholic Cathedral in which more than 30,000 people could attend. 

On Saturday, Pope Francis will visit a very important Marian sanctuary for Romanians and Hungarians, Our Lady of Csíksomlyó. 

For Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who will be traveling with the pope on this trip, that moment will be an occasion to overcome divisions.

Vatican Secretary of State
'His presence in this Marian shrine will be a message for all to overcome divisions, including historical divisions. To find what unites us, above all, from a faith point of view.'

Later in the northern town of Iasi, Pope Francis will meet with families and young people. More than 100,000 people could participate in the meeting.

Romania is a country especially marked by the religious persecution by the Communist regime. For this reason, one of the most touching moments will be the beatification of seven martyrs. The ceremony will be on Sunday in Blaj, in the center of Romania.

“Among you there were many martyrs. Also in recent times, like the seven Greek-Catholic bishops who I will have the joy of proclaiming 'blesseds.' What they have suffered, to the point of offering life, is too precious a heritage to be forgotten. It is a common heritage that calls us not to distance ourselves from the brother with whom we share it.'

Before leaving the country, the pope will meet with some people of gypsy ethnicity. Pope Francis will leave Romania on Sunday, June 2, at 5 p.m.

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