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Wednesday 17.10.2018 | Name days: Karīna, Gaits

Pope Francis arrives in Latvia for an official visit

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUPope Francis arrived in Latvia on Monday, 24 September. He was greeted at the airport by President Raimonds Vējonis, Archbishop Zbigņevs Stankevičs and other public figures.

A more expansive welcoming ceremony was held at Riga Castle. People who wanted to see the pope gathered outside, just opposite the castle to greet him in person.

After the ceremony, Pope Francis held a meeting with President Raimonds Vējonis, Latvia’s high-rank officials and representatives of various social organizations. The State President’s Chancellery reports that Pope Francis will also meet with Vējonis family, which is a standard practice when the pope meets with state officials.

Latvia’s official gift to Pope Francis will be a special volume of Chronicle of Henry of Livonia. It is a special volume that was released after the restoration of Latvia’s independence. It tells the history of Latvia’s nation. Vējonis has also prepared a private gift for the pope. Since he is aware that the pope loved the music composed by Sergei Prokofiev in his youth, the president will offer as a gift a CD with Prokofiev’s music in Latvian conductor Maris Jansons’ interpretation.

In the afternoon, the pope attended a service in Riga Cathedral. He also read a speech there. At 11:40, the pope departed to St Jacob’s cathedral from Riga Cathedral.

After the visit, the pope travelled travel to Riga port, from which he then departed for Aglone via helicopter. Residents were able to register for the pope’s service in Aglone. 32,000 people registered in advance. However, seeing how it is possible for an even larger group of people to gather, anyone interested was invited to Aglone, including people without invitations.

As previously reported, Pope Francis’ visit to Baltic States will be taking place from 22 September to 25 September. During this time, the pope intends to visit Vilnius and Kaunas in Lithuania, as well as Tallinn in Estonia.

President Raimonds Vējonis and Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis was the one who invited the pope to visit Latvia.

The first time in Latvia’s history when the country was visited by the pope was 8 September 1993, when John Paul II was pope. 2018 marks 25 years since his visit to Latvia.

Prior to his visit, Pope Francis wished Baltic States to form fair and honest relations.

The pope reminds that his visit coincides with the centenary of Baltic States. «I want to congratulate all those whose sacrifices made this freedom possible. Freedom, as we all know, is a treasure that should be protected and handed to future generations as priceless heritage,» he said.

«The fire of freedom does not fade in times of dark, violence and persecution. It inspires hope for a future in which each and every person’s God-given honour is respected and every one of us is invited to act together to create a fair and fraternal society,» the pope said in his speech.

Pope Francis stressed that now more than ever solidarity and work towards a common goal are needed the most. «I wish that my visit serves as an encouragement to all people of good will who work towards relieving suffering of their brothers and sisters who live in poverty, and so that unity and harmony is maintained on all levels,» the pope continued.

«Although I have come as a messenger of the Catholic Church, I wish to embrace all and pass a message of good will and hope,» the pope concluded.

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