Despite the pandemic-driven restrictions on mass events, Slovakia is preparing for an event expected to draw tens of thousands of people at a time: Pope Francis will visit the country in mid-September, in what is likely to be the highlight of the year for Slovakia's Catholics and a major event for the country's diplomacy.
This is the second foreign trip of Pope Francis since the outbreak of the pandemic in early 2020, after his visit to Iraq in March this year. En route to Slovakia, he will spend half a day in Hungary.
“The Pope has many invitations to many countries on the table and I consider the fact that, given his age and health, he has picked Slovakia, to be not a small, but a huge miracle,” church analyst Imrich Gazda told The Slovak Spectator.
It is the first papal visit to Slovakia in 18 years, when Pope John Paul II visited the country.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry sees the visit of Pope Francis as an extraordinary and exceptional event. Foreign Minister Ivan Korčok noted that many countries would love to welcome Pope Francis.
“It is all the more important to view his visit as the Holy Father paying special attention to Slovakia and our traditions, culture, history and the people of Slovakia,” Korčok told The Slovak Spectator.
Čaputová has left a good impression
Pope Francis is visiting Slovakia as the top representative of the Vatican City State and of the Catholic Church. His visit combines the official state programme with a pastoral programme, including meetings with believers, liturgical celebrations, social and charitable activities and meetings.
The ministry explained that two invitations are required for the papal visit to take place.