Rabat, March 31: Pope Francis is expected to deliver mass at a stadium in Rabat on Sunday as he arrived in Morocco’s capital to begin a two-day symbolic visit almost 33 years after a similar trip made by Pope John Paul II in 1985 to the Maghreb country.
The objective of his visit is to strengthen ties with Islam and to show its closeness to the small Catholic community of about 25,000 people in the African nation.
The Pope’s visit has raised great expectations among Moroccan citizens who have highlighted the “blessing,” or “baraka” in Arabic, that the pontiff has brought to the country, as his visit coincided with the first rainy day of the year in the Maghreb country.
Two-day visit of Pope Francis to Morocco has the objective of strengthening ties with Islam and to show its closeness to the small Catholic community of about 25,000 people in the African nation.
The Pope was received by King Mohamed VI who was accompanied by his son, Crown Prince Moulay Hassan, and the monarch’s brother, Prince Moulay Rachid Mohamed VI .
Afterwards, Mohamed VI and Francis went to the minaret of the emblematic Hassan Tower, where both of them are to give speeches on a rainy day.
To get from the airport to the minaret, Francis travelled on board a specially-designed “popemobile” while Mohamed VI took a convertible limousine. Along the route, citizens turned out to wave and watch, accompanied by various musical groups.
Meanwhile, thousands of people gathered for hours near the minaret, waiting for the arrival of both the Pope and the king, who were greeted by a unit of the Moroccan Royal Guard.
A massive police deployment has also been observed in numerous avenues of the capital that has been adorned with the flags of both Morocco and the Vatican.