Tista' taqra bil- Malti.
A Virtù Ferries catamaran paid a visit to Mġarr harbour this morning confirm that it can berth there in preparation for Pope Francis’ visit next May.
Fittingly, it will be a catamaran named for a former pope – Saint John Paul II – which will ferry the present pontiff from the Grand Harbour to Gozo.
In other news relating to the papal visit, a Vatican delegation is presently in Malta to assess the security measures that will be required. The delegation is made up of officers from the Swiss Guards and from the Gendarmerie Corps of Vatican City State.
From a helicopter to a catamaran
Newsbook.com.mt was informed that originally, the plan was for the pope to travel from Malta to Gozo on an Armed Forces of Malta helicopter. However, this option was discarded during a meeting involving the Vatican delegation and a Maltese one which included AFM officers.
The reason for the change of plans is logistical: the AFM only has three helicopters fit for the task, of which one has to remain on standby for emergencies. The passenger capacity of the remaining two helicopters would not be enough to transport the Pope and his entourage in one trip.
A longer stay in Gozo?
The new travel arrangements led to an amendment of the papal visit’s programme. Information obtained by Newsbook.com.mt shows that the Pope is expected to land in Malta at 3pm on Saturday, 30 May, and head to the Presidential Palace in Valletta. Taking the ferry will require a diversion to the Grand Harbour.
As a result, the Pope may end up spending a longer period of time in Gozo then originally envisaged.
Originally, Pope Francis would have spent a total of 75 minutes in Gozo, which include a 40-minute function in the Ta’ Pinu Sanctuary. During this function, he is expected to decorate the devotional image of Our Lady with Golden Rose – a golden ornament which is traditionally blessed by the Pope and conferred as a token of reverence.
The Pope will then leave Gozo on the Catamaran, this time landing at Ċirkewwa, before travelling to the Apostolic Nunciature to Malta in Tal-Virtù, Rabat, where he will spend the night.
The following day, the Pope will celebrate Mass at the Granaries in Floriana and visit St Paul’s Grotto in Rabat.
Newsbook.com.mt can also confirm that before leaving for Rome, the Pope will pay a visit to the Peace Lab in Ħal Far, where he will be meeting with asylum seekers.