Pope Francis arrived at Bangkok Airport yesterday afternoon, after an eleven-hour flight from Rome. Thailand is the first stop on a seven day Apostolic Journey to Asia taking him also to Japan. This is Pope Francis’ 32nd Apostolic Journey.
The themes underlining this visit will be: Cconfirming these nation’s small Catholic communities in the faith; promoting interreligious dialogue; defending life and the environment. The Pope is accompanied by about 70 journalists besides his entourage, including his cousin, Sr. Anna Sivori who is a missionary in Thailand.
Arrival ceremony in Bangkok
A representative of the Royal Council of Thailand, and another six authorities representing the Thai Government, met the Pope on his arrival, together with members of the Thai Bishops’ Conference. There to greet him were also 11 children representing the dioceses of Thailand where Catholics number around 300,000.
The Pope’s motorcade then left immediately for the Nunciature where Pope Francis was expected to rest before the first full day of the visit begins today.
The first papal appointments
The Pope’s first appointment this morning is at Government House where the official Welcome Ceremony will take place. Pope Francis will meet privately with Thai Prime Minister, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, before addressing authorities, members of civil society and the diplomatic corps.
Immediately afterwards, he will visit the Supreme Buddhist Patriarch, Somdej Phra Maha Muneewong, at the Wat Ratchabophit Sathit Maha Simaram Temple.
Before lunch, Pope Francis will meet medical staff and a group of patients at the St. Louis Hospital in Bangkok. This important healthcare facility was founded by Catholics in 1898. In the afternoon, the Pope will pay a private visit to the King of Thailand, Maha Vajiralongkorn Rama X, at the Amphorn Royal Palace.
The Pope’s first full day of events will conclude with the celebration of a Mass with young people in the National Stadium of Bangkok.