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Pope Francis' busy program for trip to Hungary and Slovakia


Pope Francis' visit to Hungary and Slovakia in September will be quite a feat considering he is still convalescing from recent surgery.

The Pope will leave on Sunday, Sept. 12 and return to Rome on Wednesday, Sept. 15.

He'll have to get an early start on Sept. 12. His plane is scheduled to depart from Rome's Fiumicino Airport at 6 a.m., and land in Budapest at 7:45.

In the next six hours, the Pope will meet with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and President János Áder.. He will meet with Hungary's bishops, representatives of the Ecumenical Council of Churches, and with a number of Jewish communities.

He will conclude his stay in the country with the closing Mass of the International Eucharistic Congress.

His plane for the Slovakian capital departs that day at 2:40 p.m.

In less than an hour he will arrive at his destination. But his day doesn't end there. In Bratislava, he will have an ecumenical meeting at the nunciature, where he will give his first speech in the country. Then he will have a private meeting with the Jesuits who live there.

On Tuesday he will travel to the city of Košice, where he will celebrate the Byzantine Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. After the liturgy, he will meet with the Roma community, which has long suffered from marginalization. Before returning to Bratislava, he will also meet with young people in Košice.

On Wednesday, the final day of his trip, Pope Francis will visit the National Shrine in Šaštín and join Slovakian Catholics for their annual pilgrimage. The shrine houses the image of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows, the country's patroness. Not even during Soviet totalitarianism did pilgrims stop visiting the shrine.

Pope Francis will join bishops for prayer there before celebrating Mass. His flight back to Rome will depart at 1:45 p.m., and arrive at 3:30, p.m.

Although the trip will be only four days, the Pope will attend nearly 20 total events: liturgical celebrations and meetings with different groups.

Javier Romero

TR: CT