VATICAN CITY, August 13, 2014 (Zenit.org) – Prior to departure, Pope Francis sent the President of the Italian Republic a telegram expressing his hopes for the well-being of all Italians and imparting on them his apostolic blessing.
Addressed to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, the telegram released by the Vatican today began, “As I leave Rome to go to Korea to support the mission of the local Church and to bring a message of hope to the entire population, it is dear for me to direct to you, Mr. President, my respectful greeting.”
It continued with Holy Father sending his “fervent wishes for the Italian people’s spiritual, civil, and social well-being,” and closed with the Holy Father imparting his apostolic blessing on them.
Pope Francis’ Alitalia A330 departed for Korea from Rome’s International ‘Leonardo da Vinci’ Fiumicino Airport at 4:17 p.m., local time, and will arrive at the Seoul Air Base about 10:30 a.m. local time (3:30 a.m. Rome time).
The Vatican confirmed that Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi greeted the Pontiff before his departure.
Marking the Pope’s third international pilgrimage, the Pope’s visit to South Korea Aug. 13-18 is for the occasion of the 6th Asian Youth Day and for the beatification of 124 Korean martyrs.