Pope Francis to hold mass during Sri Lanka visit

Colombo, Sept 13: Pope Francis, pope of the Catholic Church, will hold a public mass along the iconic shoreline of Sri Lanka's capital Colombo during his visit in January next year, an official said Friday while announcing official details of the tour.

The mass on Colombo's Galle Face will be held on the morning of January 14, 2015. The mass will be closely followed by a visit to the Madhu Church in northern Sri Lanka, which is considered to be the oldest Christian shrine in the island, the Archbishop of Colombo, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, told reporters, Xinhua reported.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith announced last month that Pope Francis would visit the historical Madhu Shrine during his stay in Sri Lanka in January next year.

With a history of more than 400 years, the Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu in the district of Mannar is considered the holiest Catholic shrine in Sri Lanka.

Madhu is a place of worship for both the Sinhalese and the Tamils and has been considered a symbol of unity between the two communities. It is located in Sri Lanka's former northern war zone and this will be the first papal visit to the region.

The Pope is also scheduled to meet Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Pope Francis is the third Catholic Church pope to visit Sri Lanka. Pope Paul VI visited the country in December 1970 while Pope Saint John Paul II paid a visit in January 1995.


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