Pope to start historic Cyprus visit

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Pope Francis arrives in Cyprus on Thursday for a historic trip to the island, the second Pontiff to do so following the visit of Pope Benedict XVI in 2010.

The government has welcomed the visit as a significant event of world-class calibre.

Pope Francis arrives at Larnaca airport at 15:00 local, where an official welcome will greet him.

At 4 pm, he will meet with priests, faithful and members of Church associations at the Maronite Cathedral of Our Lady of Grace in Nicosia.

Afterwards, he will be officially welcomed at the Presidential Palace, followed by a meeting with President Nicos Anastasiades, civil society and the diplomatic corps.

On Friday, the Pope will pay a courtesy visit to the head of the Cyprus Church, Archbishop Chrysostomos II,  followed by a meeting with the Holy Synod.

At 10:00 local time, he will preside over a Mass at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia.

In the afternoon, he will hold an Ecumenical Prayer with migrants at the Parish Church of the Holy Cross in Nicosia.

More than 500 police officers have been mobilised for the visit to protect the Pope.

Seventy-seven journalists will accompany the Pope, while over 200 journalists have been accredited to cover the Papal visit in Cyprus.

On Saturday, the Pope leaves Cyprus for Athens.