Pope Francis is due in Cyprus on Thursday afternoon for a three-day historic visit whose motto is “Comforting each other in faith”.
As expected, security is extremely tight with over 500 police officers from multiple branches of the force being deployed.
And with a rapid response unit (MMAD) on duty for the entire duration of the Pontiff’s visit during which roads will also be closed.
In addition, a police helicopter will monitor his movements throughout the entire visit.
The Pope is landing at Larnaca airport at 3pm where he will be received by House President Annita Demetriou and Council of Ministers members.
He will be accompanied by a strong Swiss guard from the Vatican as well as by over 100 journalists.
Following the airport ceremony, the Pope will meet priests, consecrated persons, deacons, catechists and ecclesiastical associations. He will then visit the Maronite Cathedral of Our Lady of Grace in Nicosia.
Police said that as of six in the morning on Thursday until 10 am Saturday, the Markos Drakos roundabout towards Rigainis and Arsinoes streets in the old city will be blocked.
Moreover, people who wish to attend the mass at GSP stadium on Friday morning are advised to be there ahead of time as security measures are tight and safe pass controls will also take place. GSP stadium will open at 7am to accommodate the pilgrims.
The Pope’s official welcome at the Presidential Palace will take place on Thursday at 17:15, according to an official announcement.
At 17:30 he will have a meeting with President Anastasiades to cover the Cyprus issue, Turkey’s provocations, the climate crisis and – especially – migration. The Pontif will then attend an official dinner hosted by the President.
On Friday, he will pay a courtesy visit to the Archbishop Chrysostomos at 8:30am and half an hour later the Pope will meet with the Holy Synod. The Holy Mass at GSP will follow.
At 16:00 he will have an ecumenical prayer with migrants at the Parish Church of the Holy Cross in Nicosia.
He leaves the island on Saturday morning for Athens where he is expected to arrive just after 11 am.
Born in Argentina in 1936 to Italian immigrants, Pope Francis became Cardinal in 2001.
He was elected Supreme Pontiff on March 13, 2013 and is the first one from the Western Hemisphere and the first from South America.
Pope Francis has embarked on a tenure characterized by humility and outspoken support of the world’s poor and marginalized people.