Last December, Pope Francis announced the first-ever papal trip to Iraq, also his first trip since the beginning of the pandemic.
This week the Holy See Press Office released the itinerary for the trip, along with the official logo and motto.
The logo features a map of Iraq with its historic emblems: the Euphrates & Tigris rivers and the palm tree. A white dove symbolizing peace flies with an olive branch over the Iraqi and Vatican flags, intertwined to symbolize fraternity.
His four-day trip to the country from March 5th to 8th will include stops in Baghdad, Mosul, and Bakhdiddcz – the latter of which will include a visit to a cathedral former used by ISIS as an indoor shooting range from until 2014 to 2016.
Father Georges Jahola, parish priest of the aforementioned Great Al-Tahira Immaculate Conception Cathedral spoke on the restoration recently completed with help from Aid to the Church in Need.
“I think it is very important to support this town because it is the biggest symbol of Christianity in Iraq. Until now, we kept it as a Christian city, but we do not know what the future will bring for us.”
Pope Francis said he’s looking forward to the trip and resuming his apostolic visits.
“These visits are an important sign of the solicitude of the Successor of Peter for God’s People spread throughout the world and the dialogue of the Holy See with states.”
Read the full itinerary from the Holy See Press Office below:
Official Welcome and Visit with Civil Authorities
The official welcome ceremony will take place at the Presidential Palace in Baghdad followed by a courtesy visit to the President. Pope Francis will also meet with civil authorities and members of the Diplomatic Corps.
Meeting with Priests and Religious
As part of the schedule on Friday, the Pope will meet with Bishops, Priests, Religious, Consecrated Persons, Seminarians and Catechists at the Syro-Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad.
Visit to Najaf and Mass in Baghdad
On Saturday, 6 March, Pope Francis will depart Baghdad for Najaf. Following a courtesy visit to the Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Al-Husaymi Al-Sistani in Najaf, Pope Francis will fly to Nassirya for an interreligious meeting at the Plain of Ur.
On his return to Baghdad in the afternoon, the Pope will celebrate Holy Mass at the Chaldean Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Baghdad.
Erbil and Mosul
On Sunday morning, Pope Francis will depart for Erbil. On arrival at the airport, he will be welcomed by religious and civil authorities from the region of Iraqi Kurdistan before continuing his journey by helicopter to Mosul. While there, he will recite a prayer of sufferage for the victims of war at Hosh al-Bieaa (Church Square).
Meeting with community in Qaraqosh
The Pope will again take a helicopter to Qaraqosh where he will visit the Qaraqosh community at the Church of the Immaculate Conception.
Holy Mass in Erbil
In the afternoon, Pope Francis will return to Erbil where he will celebrate Holy Mass at the “Franso Hariri” stadium. Following the celebration, the Pope will depart for Baghdad.
After a farewell ceremony on Monday morning, Pope Francis will depart for Rome. He is expected to touch down at Rome’s Ciampino airport later in the day.