Pope Francis visits the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome, where he entrusts his upcoming journey to DRC and South Sudan to Our Lady.
By Francesca Merlo
On the eve of his departure on his 40th Apostolic Journey abroad, Pope Francis paid a visit to the Roman Basilica of Saint Mary Major to entrust his visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo and to South Sudan to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
According to a statement by the Holy See Press Office, the Holy Father spent some time in prayer before an icon of Maria Salus Populi Romani.
Pope Francis is set to depart Rome on Tuesday morning on a weel-long Apostolic Journey.
On DRC and South Sudan
This will be the first visit of a Pope to DRC since 1985, when John Paul II travelled to the nation and it will be the first ever papal visit to South Sudan.
The Pope is visiting the people of these African countries as a “pilgrim of peace,” carrying with him the messages of reconciliation and hope.
In a letter addressed to the populations of both countries prior to his depature, Pope Francis noted the DRC “suffers from armed clashes and exploitation,” especially in the east of the country, and that South Sudan, has been “wracked by years of war” and “longs for an end to the constant violence that forces many people to be displaced and to live in conditions of great hardship.
The first leg of this papal visit will take the Pope to the Democratic Republic of Congo from 31 January to 3 February.
Then, on Friday, he travels to South Sudan until 5 February for a visit which seeks to help restrore hope in the world’s youngest nation.