Pope in three-day December visit

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Pope Francis will visit Cyprus on December 2 for three days before a trip to Greece, including the Greek island of Lesbos to meet migrants, a Vatican source said.

The source said that Francis would stay in Cyprus from December 2-4, his first visit to the divided island.

Among those he will meet is President Nicos Anastasiades.

The source told Reuters Francis would leave Cyprus for Athens on December 4.

The next day, he makes a day trip to the Greek island of Lesbos, where in 2016 he visited the Moria camp and returned to Rome with a dozen Syrian refugees.

Moria camp was destroyed by a fire last year and replaced with another camp called Mavrovouni.

Francis is due to return to Rome from Athens on December 6.

Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, was the first pontiff to travel to Cyprus in 2010.

Primarily Greek Orthodox, Cyprus has a small but vibrant Latin community of more than 2,400 people who can trace their roots to Crusaders who settled on the island after the fall of Jerusalem to Saladin in the 12th century.

Cyprus was the initial stop on Saint Paul’s first journey to spread Christianity in the 1st Century AD, and he converted the island’s Roman governor Sergius Paulus to the faith.

Cyprus is also linked with Saint Lazarus — the man who, according to Christian scriptures, was resurrected by Jesus.

Fearing persecution, Lazarus fled to Cyprus and was appointed a bishop. (source agencies)