Tuesday, September 4, Vilnius ‒ Pope Francis will make a state and apostolic visit to Lithuania on September 22-23 at the invitation of President Dalia Grybauskaitė, the Catholic Church and the people of Lithuania.
He will be the second pope to travel to Lithuania throughout the history of its independence. According to the President, it is a very special message and gift to Lithuania, celebrating its centennial this year, as well as an exceptional sign of friendship and support of the Holy See. There are few world countries to be visited by the pope twice during such a short period of time.
Twenty five years ago, Pope John Paul II brought a message of encouragement to the Lithuanian people who had regained freedom and started to build a democratic state. Pope Francis is the strongest voice of peace and conscience in the world, calling on all to follow the policy of values, seek concord, peace and unity, and extend a helping hand to oppressed nations.
The Holy Father will begin his state visit in Vilnius. Upon arrival at Vilnius Airport on Saturday, September 22 at 11:30 a.m., Pope Francis will be greeted by President Dalia Grybauskaitė at a state welcome ceremony and meet with the official Lithuanian delegation, church leaders and pilgrims.
After the welcoming ceremony, the Pope will visit the Presidential Palace for a bilateral meeting with the President of Lithuania. The meeting will focus on the challenges faced by the world and the Lithuanian people, the geopolitical situation, the importance of value-based policies, the need to communicate towards the individual person, reduce social exclusion, and contribute to dealing with European and global problems.
Later, Pope Francis and President Dalia Grybauskaitė will address the Lithuanian people in Simonas Daukantas Square. In his speech, the Pope will deliver the first and most important message to the State of Lithuania and to its people. Taking part in the meeting will be the authorities, the clergy, Lithuanian re-independence signatories, the diplomatic corps, members of traditional religious and national communities, municipalities, the Lithuanian Catholic Federation “Ateitis”, scouts, the Lithuanian Riflemen's Union, young people, disabled persons, representatives of business, medical, educational, cultural, sports, and other associations.
On Saturday, the Holy Father will also visit the Mater Misericordiae (Gate of Dawn) Shrine and meet with Lithuanian youth in Cathedral Square. On Sunday, September 23, Pope Francis will celebrate Holy Mass in Santakos Park and visit Kaunas Cathedral Basilica where he will meet with priests, consecrated persons and seminarians.
Much attention will be devoted to the painful chapters of Lithuanian history during the papal visit. The Holy Father will pray silently at the Memorial to the Vilnius Ghetto Victims, visit the Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights, and meet with freedom fighters, deportees and exiles at the the Memorial to the Victims of Soviet Occupation.
The President will attend all public papal meetings with the Lithuanian people.
Lithuania has always highly valued the genuine support of Pope Francis and the Vatican. The Vatican had never recognized the Soviet occupation of Lithuania. The Legation of Lithuania to the Holy See remained operational throughout the years of Soviet occupation. The Vatican supported resistance fights for Lithuanian independence, spreading information about the true state of things behind the Iron Curtain.
Pope Francis will be traveling from Vilnius to Latvia and Estonia on September 24-25.
All papal meetings and events will be broadcast live by the national broadcaster Lithuanian Radio and Television. Access to media work areas will be available only to journalists with special accreditation for the apostolic visit issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Programme of Pope Francis’ Visit to Lithuania
Saturday, September 22
- 11:30 State welcome ceremony for the Pope at Vilnius Airport
- 12:10 Meeting with President Dalia Grybauskaitė at the Presidential Palace
- 12:40 Meeting with the authorities and civil society in Daukantas Square
- 16:30 Visit to the Mater Misericordiae (Gate of Dawn) Shrine
- 17:30 Meeting with young people in Cathedral Square
Sunday, September 23
- 10:00 Holy Mass in Santakos Park, Kaunas
- 12:00 Angelus in Santakos Park, Kaunas
- 15:00 Meeting with priests, consecrated persons and seminarians in Kaunas Cathedral Basilica
- ~17:15 The Pope’s silent prayer at the Memorial to the Vilnius Ghetto Victims
- 17:30 The Pope’s visit to and prayer at the Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights
Tuesday, September 25
- 08:15 The President bids farewell to the Pope in official ceremony at Vilnius Airport