Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Planned for some time, Pope Francis' visit to South Korea will be entirely devoted to Asia's youth and martyrs.
During his four-day pilgrimage to East Asia, the Holy Father will meet with young people gathered in Daejeon for Asian Youth Day and will celebrate the beatification of Paul Yun Ji-chung and his 123 companions, victims of the persecution under Korea's Joseon kingdom.
The pontiff will leave on Wednesday, 13 August 2014, at 4 pm, from Rome's Fiumicino airport. His arrival at Seoul's military airport is expected the next day, at around 10:30 am (considering the 9-hour difference between Rome and Seoul).
After a private Mass at the Apostolic Nunciature in the capital, Francis will meet with President Park Geun-hye at a welcoming ceremony in the garden of the "Blue House", the presidential palace, in Seoul.
At 4.30 pm, he will address the country's political authorities, whilst an hour later he will meet with bishops at the headquarters of the Bishops' Conference.
The next day, Friday, 15August, the visit will continue in Daejeon where Francis will celebrate Mass for the Solemnity of the Assumption at the Stadium built for the World Cup in Korea.
Lunch will be in the company of young Asians at the Major Seminary in Daejeon.
In the afternoon, the warm embrace of Asian youth will be celebrated at Solmoe Shrine, also in the Diocese of Daejeon, where Saint Andrew Kim Taegon, Korea's first priest and saint, was born
On Saturday, 16 August, a visit is scheduled in the morning to the shrine of the martyrs in Seosomun, Seoul. It is the largest shrine dedicated to the victims of 18th century religious persecution, one of the sites most revered by the entire Korean Church.
At 10 am, a beatification Mass for Paul Yun Ji-Chung and 123 companions will be celebrated at the Gwanghwamun Gate in the capital. In the afternoon, Francis will visit a facility for the disabled, the Kkottongnae House of Hope.
Also on Saturday, the pope is scheduled to meet with Korean religious communities at the 'School of Love'; later, he will meet lay apostolate officials from the facility's spirituality centre.
On Sunday, 17 August 17, the pope will meet with Asian bishops at the Haemi Shrine. Some prominent Koreans are hoping for the presence of Chinese bishops. At 4.30 pm, Francis will celebrate the closing Mass of Asian Youth Day at Haemi Castle.
Next day, Monday, 18 August, a meeting will take place with religious leaders at the palace of the old Curia in Seoul; at 9.45 am, a big Mass for Peace and Reconciliation in Korea will be held at the Myeongdong Cathedral in Seoul, followed by a short farewell ceremony at 12:45. At 1 pm, the Holy Father will leave for Rome.