From an impromptu speech on the division on the Korean Peninsula to a surprise visit to a Jesuit-run university, here are some notable, unexpected and surprising moments from the top Catholic cleric’s visit to Korea:
Taking KTX to Daejeon
Shunning the presidential helicopter, the pontiff hopped onto a high-speed train to travel to the southern city of Daejeon with about 500 passengers.
The passengers burst into wild applause when it was announced only after the departure that the pope was with them on the same train.
Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesperson, later said the pope expressed interest in the bullet train, saying, “I finally got to ride it in Korea.” His home country of Argentina, and Italy, where he lives now, do not have high-speed train services.
|Pope Francis poses for a selfie as he meets young people at the Major Seminar in Daejeon, Friday. (AFP-Yonhap)|
Wearing a yellow ribbon
The pope celebrated his first public Mass in Korea at a packed football stadium in Daejeon on Friday, wearing a yellow ribbon on his chest. The ribbon is a symbol of the Sewol ferry disaster, which killed over 300 people.
He received it from a group of victims’ relatives and survivors that he met right before the Mass.
The pope, who usually avoids speaking anything other than Italian or his native Spanish in public, ventured into uncharted linguistic territory in Korea, delivering a handful of speeches in English and even speaking off the cuff Friday in English to thousands of young Asian faithful.
“A beloved friend of mine told me, you must never speak to young people with paper,” Francis said in English as he held up his prepared remarks to the attendants of the sixth Asia Youth Day. “You must speak, address to young people spontaneously, by the heart.
“But I have a great difficulty. I have poor English.” The audience shouted “Noooo!” in response.
Impromptu speech and prayer for North Korea
Diverging from prepared text, the pope led the attendees of Asia Youth Day in a silent prayer for North Koreans and the reunification of the two Koreas on Friday.
“Lord, we are one family. Help us reach unity. You can do it. So that there are no victors or vanquished. Just one family, only brothers.”
He urged Koreans not to despair and hold on to hope.
“You are brothers who speak the same language. ... Think of your brothers in the North. They speak the same language and when, in a family, the same language is spoken, there is a human hope,” he said.
Surprise visit to Jesuit-run university
In a surprise move, the pope arrived at Sogang University, a Jesuit-run university in Seoul, on Friday evening upon his return from Daejeon.
He spent about an hour “meeting and relaxing with his fellow Jesuits” at the ordinary community evening recreation time, according to the communications office of the Korean Province of the Society of Jesus. The pope is the first Jesuit elected to the papacy.
“Be Jesuits who give consolation to people. And please pray for me often,” the pope told them.
By Lee Sun-young and Lee Woo-young