The Vatican announced on March 7 the full programme of the visit by Pope Francis to Bulgaria, confirmed for May 5 to 7 2019.
Pope Francis will arrive on May 5 at 10am at Sofia Airport, and after being officially received, will have a meeting with Prime Minister Boiko Borissov in the government lounge of the airport.
This will be followed by a welcoming ceremony outside the Presidency and a courtesy call on President Roumen Radev, followed in turn by a meeting with government officials, civil society and the diplomatic corps in Atanas Burov Square.
Pope Francis will then visit Patriarch Neofit and the other members of the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in the Synod’s headquarters in central Sofia. This will be followed by private prayers in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church’s St Alexander Nevsky cathedral.
After that, there will be a Regina Coeli on the square in front of the cathedral. Regina Coeli is an ancient hymn in Latin, traditionally sung during the Easter season.
At 4.45pm, there will be a mass on Knyaz Alexander Square.
On May 6, the agenda begins with a visit to a refugee camp.
At 9.30am, Pope Francis will depart by air to Rakovski, the Bulgarian town with the highest proportion of the country’s Roman Catholics.
There will be a mass with first communions in the Church of the Sacred Heart in Rakovski, followed by lunch with clergy at the convent of the Fransciscan Sisters, in turn followed by a meeting with the Roman Catholic community at the Church of St Michael the Archangel.
At 5.15pm, Pope Francis will return by air to Sofia, where at Independence Square, there will be prayer for peace, in the presence of representatives of various religious faith groups.
On May 7 at 8.20am, Pope Francis departs by air for Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia.
In North Macedonia, the Pope will pay a courtesy visit to the President, hold a meeting with the Prime Minister, meet government officials, civil society and diplomats.
He will visit the memorial to Mother Theresa, hold a mass in Macedonia Square, attend an ecumenical meeting with young people, meet priests and members of the Roman Catholic community, and at 6.30pm, depart by air for Rome.