ROME — Pope Francis will visit the Balkan nations of Bulgaria and North Macedonia May 5-7, encouraging the nations’ small Catholic communities, reaching out to the Orthodox and to Muslims and paying tribute to two popular saints.
St. Teresa of Kolkata was born Aug. 26, 1910, in Skopje, which is now the capital of North Macedonia. And St. John XXIII served as apostolic delegate in Bulgaria from 1925 to 1935; for the theme of Pope Francis’s trip, the Bulgarian bishops chose the title of St. John’s 1963 encyclical, Pacem in Terris (“Peace on Earth”).
The Vatican April 17 released a full schedule for the trip, updating the an outlined itinerary, which was published in early March. Here is the full schedule; times listed are local, with Eastern Daylight Time in parentheses:
Sunday, May 5 (Rome, Sofia)
— 7 a.m. (1 a.m.) Departure from Rome’s Fiumicino airport for Sofia.
— 10 a.m. (3 a.m.) Arrival at Sofia Airport.
— 10:10 (3:10 a.m.) Meeting with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov in the airport’s governmental lounge.
— 10:40 a.m. (3:40 a.m.) Welcoming ceremony on the square outside the presidential palace.
— 11 a.m. (4 a.m.) Courtesy visit with President Rumen Radev in the presidential palace.
— 11:30 a.m. (4:30 a.m.) Meeting with government authorities, civic leaders and the diplomatic corps at Atanas Burov Square. Speech by pope.
— Noon (5 a.m.) Visit with Bulgarian Orthodox Patriarch Neophyte and members of the Holy Synod at the Palace of the Holy Synod. Greeting by pope.
— 12:50 p.m. (5:50 a.m.) Silent prayer before the Throne of Sts. Cyril and Methodius at the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky.
— 1 p.m. (6 a.m.) Recitation of the Regina Coeli prayer in Alexander Nevsky Square.
— 4:45 p.m. (9:45 a.m.) Celebration of Mass in Battenberg Square. Homily by pope.
Monday, May 6 (Sofia, Rakovski, Sofia)
— 8:30 a.m. (1:30 a.m.) Private visit to a refugee camp.
— 9:30 a.m. (2:30 a.m.) Departure by plane to Rakovski.
— 11:15 a.m. (4:15 a.m.) Celebration of Mass with first Communion at the Church of the Sacred Heart. Homily by pope.
— 1 p.m. (6 a.m.) Lunch with the bishops of Bulgaria at the Convent of the Franciscan Sisters.
— 3:30 p.m. (8:30 a.m.) Meeting with the Catholic community at the Church of St. Michael the Archangel. Speech by pope.
— 5:15 p.m. (10:15 a.m.) Departure by plane for Sofia.
— 6:15 p.m. (11:15 a.m.) Meeting for peace with Bulgarian representatives of various religions in Nezavisimost Square. Prayer by pope.
Tuesday, May 7 (Sofia, Skopje, Rome)
— Farewell ceremony at Sofia Airport.
— 8:20 a.m. (1:20 a.m.) Departure from Sofia Airport for Skopje.
— 8:15 a.m. (2:15 a.m.) Arrival at Skopje International Airport.
— 9 a.m. (3 a.m.) Welcoming ceremony in the courtyard of the Presidential Palace.
— 9:15 a.m. (3:15 a.m.) Courtesy visit with President Gjorge Ivanov of North Macedonia at the presidential palace.
— 9:30 a.m. (3:30 a.m.) Meeting with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev at the presidential palace.
— 9:45 a.m. (3:45 a.m.) Meeting with government authorities, civic leaders and the diplomatic corps in the Mosaic Hall of the presidential palace. Speech by pope.
— 10:20 a.m. (4:20 a.m.) Visit to the Mother Teresa Memorial with religious leaders and meeting with the poor. Prayer by pope.
— 11:30 a.m. (5:30 a.m.) Celebration of Mass at Macedonia Square. Homily by pope.
— 1:30 p.m. (7:30 a.m.) Lunch with papal entourage.
— 4 p.m. (10 a.m.) Ecumenical and interreligious meeting with young people at pastoral center. Speech by pope.
— 5 p.m. (11 a.m.) Meeting with priests, religious men and women and their families in the cathedral. Speech by pope.
— 6:15 p.m. (12:15 p.m.) Farewell ceremony at the Skopje International Airport.
— 6:30 p.m. (12:30 p.m.) Departure for Rome.
— 8:30 p.m. (2:30 p.m.) Arrival at Rome’s Ciampino airport.