Pope Francis is spending the third day of his apostolic visit to Eastern Slovakia on Tuesday where the program includes the celebration of the Byzantine Divine Liturgy in Prešov, a visit to the Roma community of Lunik IX and a meeting with young people in Košice . .
By Lydia O’Kane, Prešov – Kosice
This was the part of the Pope’s apostolic journey to Slovakia when he traveled from the West to meet the East.
The first event on Tuesday’s program was the celebration of the Byzantine Divine Liturgy, considered here as a historic moment and a sign of unity.
People were arriving at the municipal sports hall here at Prešov from early in the morning to get a good point of view; many wore yellow scarves with an image of Pope Francis printed on them.
Up to 900 volunteers were also on hand to make this event run as smoothly as possible.
Husband and wife Richard and Maria had brought their three children, and Maria told Vatican Radio that she wanted to bring them here today because she still remembers with joy the visit of Saint John Paul II to Slovakia.
Carnival mood greets the Pope
Then, let’s go for another highlight of the day, a visit to the Lunik IX district of Kosice meet the Roma community. It was about a Pope who, during his pontificate, continued to shed light on people on the periphery of society, coming to meet a community that lives on a daily basis without basic services such as the running water, gas and electricity.
A carnival atmosphere greeted Pope Francis as he literally walked a red carpet on a stage specially built for the event.
All those present were treated to traditional music, songs and dances; even priests could be seen stomping their feet on infectious tunes.
After greeting a Roma family, Pope Francis told the community of Lunik IX that they were “not on the margins … You are at the heart of the Church,” he said.
Love, the biggest dream of life
Last, but not least, the Pope visited Lokomotiva Stadium in Kosice where the festive mood continued, as he made his way through the sea of young people aboard the affectionately named “Popemobile”.
After hearing the testimonies of a number of young people, Pope Francis told the thousands of people gathered here: “Love is our greatest dream in life,… And when you dream of love, do not seek special effects, but realize that each of you is special. Each of us is a gift and we can make a gift of our life.
This visit to Slovakia will end with a flourish on Wednesday when the Pope and the faithful of Slovakia celebrate their patroness, Our Lady Mother of Sorrows in aštín.