After 4 years, the Holy Father will return to Africa as “Pilgrim of Peace, Hope and Reconciliation”, as the respective countries say
In Madagascar after John Paul II
Friday 6 September, the arrival in Antananarivo with the welcome ceremony is scheduled for 4.30pm. On Saturday 7 September the day will open with a courtesy visit to the President at the Presidential Palace “Iavoloha”, then the speech to the Authorities, to the civic society and to the diplomatic corps and, before lunch in “Nunziatura”, Francis will stop at the Monastery of the Carmelites barefooted. The afternoon and the whole of Sunday 8 September will be dedicated to the Catholic community which in Madagascar represents about a third of the population (around 8 million out of 25), most of them Christian (58%), accompanied by the strong presence of traditional cults.
On 9 September, a visit to Mauritius
The last day of the Pope’s journey, 9 September, will be dedicated to Mauritius Island where the origins of the Church go back to the 17th century and the first Mass was celebrated by the Jesuits in 1616.
“It will be a joy for me to announce the Gospel in the midst of your people, which stands out for having been formed by the meeting of different ethnic groups, and therefore enjoying the richness of various cultural and religious traditions”. The Pope says this in a video message of greeting and thanks sent to the people of Mauritius in the imminence of his apostolic journey.
If one of the peculiarities of Mauritius is represented by the emblematic slogan: “The island of a thousand smiles”, today the Pope’s visit validates this characteristic once more.
Certainly, the Republic of Mauritius, the group of islands off the coast of Madagascar that the Pope is about to visit, is an example of a peaceful and democratic society that has made coexistence between ethnic, religious and cultural groups its strength. Who considers it a part of the West in Africa, who is the place closest to the concept of earthly paradise in the world.
If Francesco, on his long journey to southern Africa has chosen to stop in this country and its 1.3 million inhabitants, it is probably also for this important reason.