The visit of Your Holiness gives me an opportunity to receive your blessings as I commence my term of office, said President Maithripala Sirisena welcoming the Holy Father at Bandaranaike International Airport this morning (Jan. 13).
The President, wishing the Pope a most fruitful and memorable journey in Sri Lanka sought the blessings of the Holy Father on the people of Sri Lanka and requested his prayers for the peace progress and prosperity of the people.
On the invitation of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, His Holiness Pope Francis will pay a State Visit to Sri Lanka from 13th to 15th January 2015. The Government and people of Sri Lanka are looking forward to warmly welcoming His Holiness and his delegation.
All arrangements for the visit are in place and the required constructions are progressing on schedule including the altar at Galle Face Green where the Special Mass and the canonization of Blessed Joseph Vaz, which will take place on Wednesday 14thJanuary.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa who was received at an audience by His Holiness Pope Francis I this morning extended an invitation for His Holiness to visit Sri Lanka in January next year.
President Rajapaksa and First Lady Shiranthi Wickremasinghe Rajapaksa who arrived at the Vatican this morning were received with honor by Head of Vatican Protocol Office, Msgr. Jose Avelino Bettencourt. The traditional Swiss Guards of the Vatican formed a Guard of Honor to the President. Later the President, First Lady and members of the Sri Lanka delegation were escorted to Apostolic Palace where President Rajapaksa had his audience with His Holiness at the special audience hall of the Palace.
His Holiness Pope Francis met Sri Lankans at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome in a special audience he offered to the migrant Sri Lankans living in Italy on 8 February 2014. Addressing the congregation of some 15,000 Sri Lankans at the invitation of His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, and referring to the invitation to visit Sri Lanka, Pope Francis said "I accept it and believe the Lord will give us this grace".
His Holiness Pope Francis received Secretary of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa at an audience in the Vatican on Wednesday. Mr. Rajapaksa who visited the Vatican as the Special Envoy of His Excellency the President, conveyed to Pope Francis an invitation from President Mahinda Rajapaksa to visit Sri Lanka in the near future.
During his visit, the Secretary also paid courtesy calls on dignitaries of the Vatican City State. Mr Rajapaksa appreciated efforts by the Holy See to promote world peace, disarmament, interfaith dialogue and dialogue among civilisations. He said that as a nation that has been blessed with a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural social fabric, and more importantly as a country that was coming out of a long period of conflict, Sri Lanka valued the strength that comes from the unity of the diverse communities in Sri Lanka. After almost thirty years of suffering, Sri Lanka had embarked upon a new era of development and reconciliation for all its people and looked upon the international community for encouragement and support.
Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva Ravinatha Aryasinha, who is concurrently accredited to the Holy See, presented his credentials to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on the 13thof December 2012 at a ceremony held at the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican.
Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Ambassador Tamara Kunanayakam, who is concurrently accredited to the Holy See, presented her credentials to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI at a ceremony in the Vatican on 15th December 2011, in the presence of His Eminence Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State of the Holy See, and other high officials of the Vatican.
Non-resident Ambassadors from the following 10 countries also presented their credentials at the ceremony: Pakistan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Guinea Bissau, Switzerland, Burundi, Mozambique, Kyrgyzstan, Andorra, and Burkina Faso.