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A first-ever visit from a Pontiff

 A first-ever visit from a Pontiff  ING-034
25 August 2023

Pope Francis is gearing up for his Apostolic Journey to Mongolia, which will take place from 31 August to 4 September. It will be the 43rd international trip of his Pontificate.

The five-day journey will take place exclusively in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar, where the Pope is scheduled to arrive on Friday, 1 September, after a long flight from Rome’s Fiumicino Airport starting on Thursday afternoon. An official welcome will be held at Chinggis Khaan International Airport in Ulaanbaatar after the Pope lands at around 10 a.m., local time. On Saturday, 2 September, after another welcoming ceremony in Sukhbaatar Square, the Pope will pay a courtesy visit to the President of Mongolia in the State Palace. Then, in the palace’s Ike Mongol hall, he will address the country’s authorities, members of civil society and the diplomatic corps. It will be the first of four official public discourses of the trip. The Pope is also scheduled to meet with the President of the State Great Hural — the country’s unicameral Parliament — and with the Prime Minister. In the afternoon he will meet with bishops, priests, missionaries, consecrated men and women, and pastoral workers in the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul. On Sunday morning, an ecumenical and interreligious meeting in the Hun Theatre will precede the celebration of Holy Mass for the small Catholic community present in the country, in the Steppe Arena. It will be the Pope’s only public homily during his trip.

On Monday, 4 September, the Holy Father will meet with Caritas staff and attend the inauguration of the House of Mercy. The trip will conclude with a farewell ceremony at the airport. The papal plane will take off at around noon and arrive in Rome at around 5:20 p.m., local time.

The theme of the Apostolic Journey, “Hoping Together”, was chosen in order to highlight the dual dimensions of the trip: as a pastoral visit, and as a State visit. It opts for a virtue that is decidedly Christian (hope), but that is largely shared in other spheres. It is associated with the adverb “together”, to underline the importance of the bilateral collaboration between the Holy See and Mongolia.

“Hoping Together” thus represents a shared ideal as well as an element that can characterise this visit: the Holy Father’s presence constitutes for this small percentage of the people of God a sign of great hope and encouragement. Conversely, the Church in Mongolia, with its smallness, can offer a sign of hope for the universal Church.

In the logo for the Apostolic Journey, above the motto, is a map of the country, drawn in the colours of the national flag (red and blue). Within the map outline is a ger (a traditional house), from which a plume of yellow smoke (the Vatican colour) emerges. To the right is a cross. Both the ger and the cross are flanked on both sides by vertical lines of traditional Mongolian script that reads “Hoping Together”.