Pope to hold Nicosia mass on 3 December

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Pope Francis will hold an open-air mass at the GSP stadium in Nicosia on 3 December, with a huge security operation shielding the Pontiff during his first visit to the island.

The Pope will arrive on 2 December for a three-day visit, with security forces on full alert, sealing off roads around the Archbishopric quarters where he will be residing in Nicosia.

The police have already prepared a draft for the security measures, as the Pope will be awarded the honours of a head of state.

High-ranking Vatican officials were once more in Cyprus on Thursday to discuss the Pontiff’s visit with Foreign Ministry officials.

Quoting police officials, Phileleftheros daily said on Friday that all the streets the Pope will pass through during his visit will be closed to traffic, while the area near the Paphos Gate, where he will stay, will be cordoned off.

Only residents with a special permit will be allowed to enter.

Phileleftheros said authorities would be taking similar measures to those implemented in 2010 when Pope Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict, made a landmark journey to Cyprus.

Police helicopters and drones will be deployed to monitor the Pope’s every movement.

The faithful attending the mass on 3 December will be searched and scanned before being allowed into the stadium.

The service will take place on the morning of Friday, 3 December, and according to preliminary meteorological forecasts collected from both Cyprus and abroad, the weather on the day is expected to be fine.

An alternative plan has been drawn up, but the location is not expected to change.

The Pope, who will be accompanied by a strong Swiss guard from the Vatican.

The Pope will be using vehicles provided by the Republic for his transportation.

Pope Francis was invited by President Nicos Anastasiades back in 2019 when the president had visited the Vatican.

The Pope had scheduled a visit in 2020 but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Anastasiades is expected to welcome the Pope at the Presidential Palace on 2 December.

The head of the Catholic Church will also meet the head of the Cyprus Greek Orthodox Church, Archbishop Chrysostomos II, and representatives of the Catholic Church.