09/15/2014, 00.00
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The website of Pope Francis' visit to Sri Lanka already accessible

by Melani Manel Perera
The trilingual website (Sinhala, Tamil, and English) provides information about the visit. Francis will be the first pope to travel to the north of the island, a Tamil region strongly ​​affected by the civil war. The logo remembers the Blessed Joseph Vaz, "the apostle of Sri Lanka," whose canonisation the local church is waiting for.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - The website dedicated to Pope Francis's apostolic visit to Sri Lanka (13-15 January 2015) is already up and running. Available in the country's three main languages, namely Sinhala, Tamil, and English, the website - www.popefrancissrilanka.com - is full of information on the visit's events, liturgical celebrations and accreditations.

The site was officially presented on Friday in the presence of Card Malcolm Ranjith, archbishop of Colombo and president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Sri Lanka (CBCSL). In addition to the webpage, the prelate unveiled the logo and details of the provisional agenda for the papal visit.

According to the schedule, Francis Pope will land at Bandaranaike (Katunayake) International Airport on 13 January at 9 am, where he will be officially welcomed. After reaching Colombo, he will meet with bishops from the Bishops' Conference of Sri Lanka and have lunch with them. In the afternoon, he will meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa at President's House. In the evening, he will meet all the religious leaders at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall.

On 14 January, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at 8:30 am at the Galle Face Green. At the end of the liturgy, he will travel to the shrine of Our Lady of Madhu (Mannar diocese, north of the country), where he will celebrate a special prayer service. By visiting the shrine, Francis will be the first pope to set foot in northern Sri Lanka and meet the Tamil population, the region's majority ethnic group and the hardest hit by the ravages of the civil war.

The logo's foreground depicts the so-called "Cross of Sri Lanka", inspired by the cross of Saint Thomas. The blue colour symbolises the country's Marian devotion and commemorates the country's consecration to Our Lady of Lanka after World War II.

Next to the cross, there is the image of the Blessed Joseph Vaz, "the Apostle of Sri Lanka" who was beatified by Saint Pope John Paul II during his visit in 1995. Now the Sri Lankan Church hopes the visit in January will provide the opportunity for his canonisation by Pope Francis.

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