Melkite Christians thank Pontiff for his hospitality, wish him a safe trip to Cuba
The family of Syrian refugees being hosted by the Vatican parish of Santa Anna had the opportunity to thank Pope Francis in person for his hospitality, the Vatican reported. Their Saturday morning visit came shortly before the Holy Father departed for Cuba and the United States.
The family, consisting of mother, father and two children, are members of the Greek Catholic Melkite Church in Damascus. They fled the war in their country and are living in an apartment belonging to the Vatican in the vicinity of St. Peter’s Basilica. They have already asked for international asylum.
On Saturday, they were accompanied by the Pontifical Almoner, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, to the Pope’s the Santa Marta residence to say thank you and to wish him a safe trip.
A second family of refugees will soon be welcomed by the other Vatican parish, St. Peter’s. The Vatican is not releasing the names of either family.
The Pope then went to get in the car that took him to Rome’s Fiumicino Airport.
Pope Francis’ tenth international journey began this morning when his flight took off from Rome’s Fiumicino Airport at 10:32 am Rome time. It was Alitalia flight A330, scheduled to arriva at the José Marti International airport in La Habana, Cuba at 16:00 (4:00 pm) Cuba time after nearly twelve hours in flight.
On Friday evening, Pope Francis visited the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome for a moment of prayer before his 10th Apostolic Voyage as pope. It has become customary for the Holy Father to visit the basilica and to pray before the Salus Populi Romani (Protectress of the Roman People) image of the Blessed Virgin Mary before a trip.