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Holy Father to visit Slovakia next week

Pope John Paul leaves Rome next Thursday for a three day pastoral visit to the Slovak Republic, the 102nd foreign trip of his almost 25-year papacy.

Upon his mid-morning arrival in the capital Bratislava, he is scheduled to speak at the welcome ceremony, after which he will go to the apostolic nunciature for private meetings with the officials including the country's president.

On Friday morning, he will celebrate Mass in Banska Bystrica before lunching with the bishops. On Saturday he will travel by air to two other cities before returning to Bratislava in the evening.

On the Saturday, he will celebrate Mass in Bratislava, during which he will beatify the martyrs Basile Hopko and Zdenka Schelingova, before lunching with bishops and leaving for Rome in the early evening.

The Pope's frailty has cut back on the number of meetings possible during this trip. During previous travels, he has made a point of meeting representatives of all different sectors of the country's society, but in Slovakia his public appearances will be limited primarily to Eucharistic celebrations.

75% of Slovakia's 5.4 million population is Catholic. The Church in Slovakia runs 100 primary schools, 48 middle and secondary schools and 2 high schools and universities.

Independent Catholic News

Physical frailty limits Pope's travel schedule (Catholic World News)
'Morality pact' to boost Catholic influence in Slovakia (23/8/03)
Catholic Bishops Conference of Slovakia | Pastoral Letter of the Bishops of Slovakia for the Spiritual Preparation before the Third Visit of the Holy Father to Slovakia
Papal Visit to Slovakia (official website)
Apostolic Journey to Slovakia (Vatican Website)
Catholic Church in Slovakia (

5 Sep 2003