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Friday, September 30, 2016

The journey to Georgia begins

Pope Francis' 16th international Apostolic Voyage began this morning.  His Holiness is on his way to Georgia and Azerbaijan, the second step of a more extended visit to the Caucasus.  The first part of this tour took place in June of this year when the Holy Father visited Armenia.

The aircraft carrying the Holy Father (an Alitalia A321) departed from Rome's Fumicino international airport at approximately 9:15am this morning and landed at the Tbilisi international airport at 2:55pm local time (6:55am EDT), following a 4-hour flight.


Telegram of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
sent to the President of the Italian Republic

At the moment he left Italian territory on his way to Tbilisi, the Holy Father, Pope Francis sent the following message to the Honourable Sergio Mattarella, President of the Italian Republic:

To His Excellency
The Honourable Sergio Mattarella
President of the Italian Republic
Palazzo del Quirinale
00187 Rome

At the moment when I am beginning my Apostolic Voyage to Georgia and Azerbaijan, to encourage the meeting and dialogue of various cultures and religions, to strengthen the journey toward the unity of Christians and to confirm the Catholic community in their faith, I have the pleasure to send you, Mister President, and the entire Italian nation, my cordial greetings, which are accompanied by my fervent wishes for the spiritual, civic and social progress of beloved Italy.

Franciscus
(Original text in Italian)


During the voyage from Rome to Tbilisi, passing over Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, Bulgaria and Turkey, the Holy Father sent the following telegrams to the respective Heads of State of each of those countries:

While passing over Croatia

Her Excellency, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović
President of the Republic of Croatia
Zagreb

As I enter Croatian airspace on my way to Georgia and Azerbaijan for a pastoral visit, I extend best wishes to Your Excellency and to all your fellow citizens.  Upon the nation I invoke almighty God's abundant blessings.

Franciscus

While passing over Bosnia-Herzegovina

His Excellency, Bakir Izetbegović
Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Sarajevo

As I fly over Bosnia and Herzegovina on my Apostolic Journey to Georgia and Azerbaijan, I offer Your Excellency and fellow citizens my best wishes. With memories of my visit to your country, I willingly invoke upon you the abundant blessings of the Almighty.

Franciscus

While passing over Montenegro

His Excellency, Filip Vujanović
President of Montenegro
Podgorica

Flying over Montenegro on the way to my Pastoral Visit to Georgia and Azerbaijan, I offer cordial greetings to Your Excellency and fellow citizens.  I assure you of my prayers and invoke upon the nation abundant divine blessings.

Franciscus

While passing over Serbia

His Excellency, Tomislav Nikolić
President of the Republic of Serbia
Belgrade

Upon entering Serbian airspace on my way to Georgia and Azerbaijan for a pastoral visit, I offer best wishes to Your Excellency and your fellow citizens.  With the assurance of my prayers, I invoke upon the nation abundant divine blessings.

Franciscus

While passing over Bulgaria

His Excellency, Rosen Plevneliev
President of the Republic of Bulgaria
Sofia

As I fly over Bulgaria on the way to my pastoral visit to Georgia and Azerbaijan, I offer cordial greetings to Your Excellency and your fellow citizens.  Invoking divine blessings upon you all, I assure you of my prayers for the nation.

Franciscus

While passing over Turkey

His Excellency, Recep Tayyip Erdogan
President of the Republic of Turkey
Ankara

As I fly over Turkey on the way to my pastoral visit to Georgia and Azerbaijan, I extend cordial greetings to Your Excellency and your fellow citizens.  With memories of my visit to your country, I assure you of my prayers and invoke upon you all abundant divine blessings.

Franciscus
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