11/14/2014, 00.00
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In Sri Lanka and the Philippines, the pope to visit Our Lady of Madhu and meet typhoon survivors

On the island once known as Ceylon, Francis will meet with political and religious leaders. He will also beatify missionary Joseph Vaz and visit the shrine of Our Lady of Lanka. In the Philippines, he will have lunch with survivors of typhoon Yolanda, bless a new centre for the poor, and meet young people and their families.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Sharing a meal with survivors of typhoon Yolanda, the beatification of the missionary Joseph Vaz, a visit to the great Marian shrine of Madhu, meetings with political and religious authorities and with  priests and families in Sri Lanka and the Philippines will be the highlights of Pope Francis' visit to the two Asian countries, between 12 to 19 January 2015, this according to the official programme released this morning by the Press Office of the Holy See.

The pope is set to leave at 7 pm on Monday, 12 January, and arrive in Sri Lanka the next morning. After the welcoming ceremony at Colombo's international airport, the pope will meet with the bishops and the president.

Late in the afternoon, an inter-religious meeting is set to take place at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall.

Wednesday morning, 14 January, will be devoted to the canonisation of the Blessed Joseph Vaz at Galle Face Green in Colombo.

Right after lunch, Francis will travel by helicopter to the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary in Madhu, one of the most revered sites in all of Asia, where he will lead a prayer to the Virgin. After that, he will return to the capital.

On Thursday 15 January, after a brief visit to the chapel "Our Lady of Lanka" in Bolawalana, the Pope will depart Sri Lanka for the Philippines, where he will arrive at 5.45 pm.

A welcome ceremony and a meeting with President Aquino will take place the next day, Friday 16 January, followed by greetings to the authorities and the diplomatic corps.

Before lunch, the pope will take part in a Mass with bishops, priests, religious men and women in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Manila. In the afternoon, he will meet with families in Manila's Mall of Asia Arena.

On Saturday 17 January, Francis will leave Manila for Tacloban City, one of the areas affected by typhoon Yolanda. Here he will celebrate a Mass at the airport and have lunch with some of the survivors from the Archdiocese of Palo.

At 3 pm, he will bless the 'Pope Francis Center for the Poor'. This will be followed by a meeting at the local cathedral with the local clergy as well as typhoon survivors and their families. In the evening, he will travel back to Manila.

On Sunday 18 January, the pontiff will take part in three events: a brief meeting with religious leaders at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, a meeting with young people on the university's sports field, and Mass at 3.30 pm at Manila's huge Rizal Park.

The next morning, the Holy Father will leave for Rome's Ciampino Airport where he is scheduled to arrive at 5 pm.

During his trip, Pope Francis will deliver a total of seven speeches and four homilies.

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