Pope Francis visits Bulgaria

Pope Francis recalled the example of Saints Cyril and Methodius, and his predecessor Pope John XXIII as he visited the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and met with Patriarch Neophyte, and then prayed Regina Coeli in the St. Alexander Nevsky Square.

The example of Ss. Cyril and Methodius dominated the Pontiff’s remarks as he met with Patriarch Neophyte and the metropolitans of the Holy Synod. He called the Holy Brothers “promoters of a united Europe” and said they showed the basis for a new art of living together, with respect for differences.

The Pope arrived Sunday on an apostolic journey to Bulgaria at the invitation of the Bulgarian authorities and the Interritual Bishops’ Conference of Bulgaria. He came with a delegation of 35 of the highest representatives of the Holy See.

He was met at the government terminal of Sofia Airport by Prime Minister Boyko Borissov. The Prime Minister thanked him for accepting to visit Bulgaria. The Pope’s first words were “I truly pray for peace.”

The two had a one-on-one meeting in the VIP lounge of the airport followed by a public exchange of gifts: an embroidered icon of Ss. Cyril and Methodius, an omophorion, which is a vestment traditionally used by bishops, and an eternal rose and Bulgarian yogurt for the Pope, and replicas of pontifical medals for the Prime Minister.

Pope Francis will be in Bulgaria until May 6 when he will leave on a visit to Republic of North Macedonia. He is accompanied by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri and Cardinal Kurt Koch.