The Pontiff will arrive at the Katunayake International Airport at 9.00 am on 13th January 2015 and leave to the Bishop’s House and will meet with the Bishops.
On the 13th afternoon Pope Francis will meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa and thereafter meet with the clergy of other religions.
A mass will be held at Galle Face Green on the 14th morning and thereafter the Pope will proceed to Mannar. Pope Francis will conduct a special mass at the Madhu Church on the 14th evening and will bless the people of Sri Lanka from the statue of the Lady of Madhu.
The Sri-Lankan Church published the logo for the Papal visit. It shows a “Cross of Sri Lanka”, set against the background of a white and yellow mitre. On the sides, there are four flags, symbolising the multi-ethnic and multi-religious character of the country.
The Church in Sri Lanka embraces three components of the population, the Sinhalese Tamil and the Burghers and remains divided by the experiences of war. and Pope Francis’ visit represents a turning point for the Church in Sri Lanka. Rev Rayappu Joseph, the Bishop of the dioceses of Mannar had asked the Holy See that the Pope visit Tamil territories, on behalf of numerous priests and lay representatives of the Tamil Catholic community.
Pope Francis will be the first Pope in history to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu and will thus set foot in a territory where most inhabitants are Tamil. Pope Francis chooses to touch on the sore point of the civil war between the Sinhalese and the Tamil people that devastated the island for from 1983-2009.
The Shrine of Madhu, founded by the Dutch, goes back more than 400 years and has become the symbol for national reconciliation. The Shrine was preserved from armed conflicts as a “free zone” and has become a place where the Tamils and the Sinhalese, Christians as well as believers of other religions, met side by side without hostilities. It is the destination of incessant pilgrimages and thus it is the place that is best suited to send a message of social, political and religious harmony.
Following the Sri Lanka visit the Pope will visit Philippines from 15 to 19 January 2015.