The Vatican has released the final program for Pope Francis’s visit to Iraq in March this year. It will be his first-ever international tour after the pandemic hit most parts of the world.
On December 7 last year, the Vatican announced that the Pope has finally scheduled his first international visit since the pandemic started. The tour, which will take place around the Iraqi cities of Baghdad, the plain of Ur, Mosul, and Qaragosh, will happen from March 5 to 8, 2021. (Read: Catholics in Iraq Begin Prayers for Pope Francis’s Visit)
According to the Vatican, Pope Francis will be departing from the Ciampino airport in Rome on March 5 and will arrive at Baghdad International Airport in the afternoon. From there, he will go on numerous visits and meet with different groups all throughout his stay.
My Pope Philippines lists the Pope’s itinerary for his Apostolic Visit in Iraq.
Apostolic Visit to Iraq: March 5
- Official Welcome and Visit with Civil Authorities. The official welcome ceremony will take place on Friday at the Presidential Palace in Baghdad followed by a courtesy visit to the President. Pope Francis will also meet with civil authorities and members of the Diplomatic Corps.
- Meeting with Priests and Religious Groups. Pope Francis is scheduled to meet with Bishops, Priests, Religious, Consecrated Persons, Seminarians, and Catechists at the Syro-Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad.
Apostolic Visit to Iraq: March 6
- Visit to Najaf. Pope Francis will depart Baghdad for Najaf on Saturday morning. Following a courtesy visit to the Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Al-Husaymi Al-Sistani in Najaf, Pope Francis will fly to Nassirya for an interreligious meeting at the Plain of Ur.
- Mass in Baghdad. On his return to Baghdad in the afternoon, the Pope will celebrate Holy Mass at the Chaldean Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Baghdad.
Apostolic Visit to Iraq: March 7
- Erbil and Mosu. On Sunday, Pope Francis will depart for Erbil. Upon arrival at the airport, he will be welcomed by religious and civil authorities from the region of Iraqi Kurdistan before continuing his journey by helicopter to Mosul. While there, he will recite a prayer of sufferage for the victims of war at Hosh al-Bieaa (Church Square).
- Meeting with community in Qaraqosh. The Pope will again take a helicopter to Qaraqosh where he will visit the Qaraqosh community at the Church of the Immaculate Conception. (Read: Catholics Place Statue of Mary on War-Damaged Church in Iraq)
- Holy Mass in Erbil. On Sunday afternoon, Pope Francis will return to Erbil where he will celebrate Holy Mass at the “Franso Hariri” stadium. Following the celebration, the Pope will depart for Baghdad.
Apostolic Visit to Iraq: March 8
- Departure. After a farewell ceremony on Monday morning, Pope Francis will depart for Rome. He is expected to touch down at Rome’s Ciampino airport later in the day.