Pope Francis is set to make an Apostolic Visit to the Kingdom of Bahrain on November 3-6, to encourage the country’s small Catholic flock and to attend the "Bahrain Forum for Dialogue: East and West for Human Coexistence."
Ahead of his departure, the Holy See Press Office released the programme for the papal visit to the Middle East country, along with the logo and motto.
Interreligious aspect to visit
The Bahrain Forum for Dialogue will also see the participation of Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayyeb, Grand Imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar Al-Sharif.
The Pope and the Sheikh met last month in Kazakhstan for the 7th Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in Kazakhstan.
Over 200 other religious leaders from various parts of the globe are also scheduled to attend the forum, held on November 3–4 and hosted by Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa.
An overview of the papal schedule
According to the program, Pope Francis departs Rome’s Fiumicino Airport at 9:30 AM on Thursday, October 3, and lands in the central Bahrain city of Awali at the Sakhir Air Base at around 4:45 PM (GMT+3).
He will then make a courtesy visit to King Hamad at the Sakhir Royal Palace and meet with Bahrain’s authorities, civil society, and diplomatic corps.
On Friday morning, the Pope will attend the closing session of the Bahrain Forum for Dialogue. Later, in the afternoon, he will meet privately with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, then hold an audience with the members of the Muslim Council of Elders (of which Sheikh Ahmed is the Chairman).
Afterward, Pope Francis turns his attention to Christians living in Bahrain, as he holds an ecumenical meeting and prays for peace at the Our Lady of Arabia Cathedral in Awali.
On Saturday, the Holy Father celebrates Mass in the Bahrain National Stadium in the morning for the country’s Catholic population, which numbers around 161,000 faithful.
He holds a meeting with young people at the Sacred Heart School in the afternoon.
The Pope wraps up his Apostolic Visit on Sunday morning with a prayer meeting with local bishops, priests, consecrated persons, seminarians, and pastoral workers at the Sacred Heart Church in Manama. The papal plane then takes the Pope and his entourage back to Rome for arrival at Fiumicino Airport around 5 PM.
Motto and logo
The motto for the Apostolic Journey to Bahrain is "Peace on earth to people of goodwill." which is taken from the Gospel of Luke 2:14.
The visit’s logo consists of the flags of the Holy See and the Kingdom of Bahrain, which is represented in stylized form as two hands open towards God.
According to the Holy See Press Office, the logo symbolizes "the commitment of peoples and nations to encounter each other free from prejudice and in a spirit of openness as brothers and sisters."
An olive branch extending upwards from the hands symbolizes peace, "the fruit of fraternal encounter."
The words "Pope Francis" appear below the symbol in the color blue, to show that the visit is entrusted to "Our Lady of Arabia," the patroness of the Cathedral, which was a gift of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the local Catholic Church.
Thursday, 3 November 2022
ROME – AWALI
09:30 Departure by airplane from Rome/Fiumicino International Airport to Awali
16:45 Arrival at Sakhir Air Base in Awali
16:45 OFFICIAL WELCOME
17:30 COURTESY VISIT TO HIS MAJESTY THE KING OF BAHRAIN at Sakhir Royal Palace
18:10 WELCOME CEREMONY in the courtyard of Sakhir Royal Palace
18:30 MEETING WITH THE AUTHORITIES, CIVIL SOCIETY, AND THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS
Friday, 4 November 2022
10:00 CLOSING OF THE "BAHRAIN FORUM FOR DIALOGUE: EAST AND WEST FOR HUMAN COEXISTENCE" at Al-Fida' Square of Sakhir Royal Palace
16:00 PRIVATE MEETING WITH THE GRAND IMAM OF AL-AZHAR in the Papal Residence within the grounds of Sakhir Royal Palace
16:30 MEETING WITH THE MEMBERS OF THE MUSLIM COUNCIL OF ELDERS at the Mosque of Sakhir Royal Palace
17:45 ECUMENICAL MEETING AND PRAYER FOR PEACE in Our Lady of Arabia Cathedral
Saturday, 5 November 2022
08:30 HOLY MASS at Bahrain National Stadium
17:00 MEETING WITH THE YOUTH in Sacred Heart School
Sunday, 6 November 2022
AWALI – MANAMA – AWALI – ROME
09:30 PRAYER MEETING AND ANGELUS WITH BISHOPS, PRIESTS, CONSECRATED PERSONS, SEMINARIANS, AND PASTORAL WORKERS in Sacred Heart Church in Manama
12:30 FAREWELL CEREMONY at Sakhir Air Base in Awali
13:00 Departure by airplane from Sakhir Air Base to Rome
17:00 Arrival at Rome/Fiumicino International Airport
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