|Pope Francis greets faithful as he arrives for a meeting with members of a Catholic organization, Sant’Egidio Community, in Rome, Sunday. (AP-Yonhap)|
Pope Francis will visit South Korea on Aug. 14 to attend a Catholic youth festival and preside over a ceremony to beatify 124 Korean Catholic martyrs, the Vatican and the local preparation committee for the visit said Wednesday.
During the five-day state visit, the pope will conduct four Masses, including one for the beatification ceremony and another for the closing ceremony of Asian Youth Day.
He will attend an official welcoming ceremony at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae and pay a visit to President Park Geun-hye after arriving at Seoul Airport in Seongnam, just south of Seoul, on Aug. 14.
On the second day, the pope will attend a Mass to celebrate Mary’s rise into heaven on Assumption Day and deliver a homily at a soccer stadium in the central city of Daejeon.
He will invite the families of the victims of April’s ferry disaster to the Mass and console them during the homily.
The pope will then preside over the Asian Youth Day event at the shrine of Solmoe in Dangjin, South Chungcheong Province, which is the birthplace of St. Andrew Kim Dae-geon, the first Korean Catholic priest.
He will start the third day by paying a visit to Seosomun Catholic Martyrs’ Shrine, the nation’s largest of its kind.
Afterwards, he will preside over the beatification ceremony at Seoul’s Gwanghwamun area in which 124 Catholic martyrs, including Paul Yun Ji-chung, a first-generation Korean Catholic persecuted during the Confucian Joseon era in the early 19th century, will receive the Catholic Church’s recognition as “blessed.” It is the third of the four steps in the Catholic canonization process.
In the afternoon, he will visit a welfare facility for the disabled in Eumseong, 131 kilometers south of Seoul in North Chungcheong Province and some 4,000 nuns and monks as well as representatives of ordinary believers.
On Aug. 17, the pontiff will meet with bishops from all Asian countries at Haemi Catholic Martyrs’ Shrine in Seosan, South Chungcheong Province, and preside over the closing ceremony of the Catholic youth festival at a nearby tourist destination.
On the last day, he will conduct a Mass “for peace and reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula” at Seoul’s Myeongdong Cathedral after meeting with leaders of the nation’s seven largest religious orders at the Archdiocese of Seoul.
After the Mass, the pope will return home, wrapping up his five-day trip to South Korea.
The pope, during the visit, will stay at the Apostolic Nunciature in Korea and use a helicopter to be offered by the presidential office for long-distance trips and a passenger car for short-distance trips.
It will be the pope’s first trip to Asia since being elected last year. The late Pope John Paul II came here twice, in 1984 and 1989. (Yonhap)