Where will the Pope visit while in Malta?

Pope Francis waves from his popemobile at St. Louis Catholic Church in Bangkok, Thailand November 21, 2019. REUTERS/Ann Wang

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The guessing game is on: Where will Pope Francis go to during his flying visit to Malta on May 31?

The programme has not been finalized but there is a pattern followed in most Papal visits which one assumes will also be followed in Malta. In the light of all this and of what has already been said Newsbook.com.mt will make its predictions.

Visit to Ta’ Pinu: confirmed

While I write Vatican experts and Malta Curia officials are visiting sites in Malta to conclude the programme. Today they will also be visiting Gozo.

That’s a stop we know the Pope will definitively make. Bishop Mario Grech said that the Pope will visit the Ta’ Pinu Sanctuary.

Presidential Palace: a certainty

The Pope will land in Malta’s International Airport in the morning. The time of landing has not been announced. Will the Pope go to Gozo immediately after landing in Malta? Very unlikely and improbable.

The first stop the Pope usually makes is to the political leaders of the country. So it is very likely that from MIA the Pope will go to the Presidential Palace in Valletta. There he will meet the political elite and probably give an address.

Fosos Mass: no doubt about it

Another must is the celebration of the Mass. The most likely place would be the Fosos at Floriana Granaries. It is close to Valletta, where the first meeting will probably be held, and it is a very fitting place for a massive crowd to congregate.

Will Francis abandon Paul? Not probable

The visit to the Presidential Palace and the Mass will take up the whole morning. The Pope will need to have lunch and rest a bit. He always does that in the Apostolic Nunciature which is in Rabat. It would be unheard of for the Pope to go to the Nunciature but not visit the Grotto of St Paul which is almost literally around the corner. Such a visit was one of the highlights of the three Papal visits we had. Pope Francis will not be the exception.

Where will he go to after a short siesta in Rabat?

Off to Gozo after lunch?

The most likely visit will then be to Gozo and because of time constraints, he will probably be ferried by helicopter to our sister island.

Will it be possible for a helicopter to land somewhere close to the Nunciature or will the Pope have to be driven to MIA? We do not know the answer to that question.

Since Mass will probably be celebrated in Floriana it would be very unlikely that the Pope will also celebrate Mass in Gozo as it will take too much time, which is a scarcity during this visit. A liturgical celebration of sorts or the Church’s Official Evening Prayer will replace Mass.

From Gozo, the Pope returns to Malta. Will he go directly to the airport and off to Rome?

Will he speak about but not visit migrants?

There was a build-up to the Pope’s visit and it was made by the Pope himself. On different occasions in recent weeks, he spoke about Malta within the context of the visit of St Paul. He referred to the issue of migrants. His first trip outside of the Vatican was to Lampedusa and he has the topic of migration one of the themes he repeatedly refers to. There is practically no doubt that the Pope will speak about migration during his visit to Malta. Will be adding some action to his words? Considering that Pope Francis is a man of action the probable answer would be in the affirmative.

This could take different forms. Migrants could be present during the Mass or there could be a short visit by a group to the Nunciature or the Pope could visit a place where migrants are hosted. If the third alternative is taken the number of places that could be visited are not too many. It all depends on whether such a visit would be made on the way to Valletta in the morning or on the way to Rabat. It could also be that the visit will be made during the time between his return from Gozo and his flight back to Rome.

We wait for the official programme for that detail.