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Pope to attend youth day in South Korea in August

Francis expected to attend ceremony for 124 Korean martyrs

10 March, 14:25
Pope to attend youth day in South Korea in August (Updates previous) (ANSA) - Vatican City, March 10 - Pope Francis will visit South Korea in August, a country that has been a priority for the pontiff and one that he has been interested in seeing, Vatican Spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said Monday.

Francis will fly from Rome on August 13 and during his four days in Korea, the pope will attend the Sixth Asian Youth Day in Daejeon, and also visit the capital city of Seoul where he is expected to visit Korean President Park Geun-hye.

There, he will take part in a canonization ceremony for 124 Korean Catholics who were martyred in the 18th and 19th century, Lombardi said. Francis will also visit the country's newly appointed cardinal, Andrew Yeom Soo-jung.

In January, Francis named the 71-year-old archbishop of Seoul as a new cardinal, making him the country's third-ever cardinal after late Stephen Kim Sou-hwan (1922-2009) and Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk.

Few details about the trip were available, though Francis has talked about the importance of the Asia-Pacific region, including Sri Lanka, to the Catholic Church.

Lombardi said that Francis, on his return journey from Rio de Janeiro and World Youth Day last July, said then that he wanted to visit Korea. Earlier this year, Lombardi said that visits to the Philippines and Sri Lanka were also being considered for future travel. South Korea has a Catholic community of more than five million, a sizable portion of its nearly 49-million population whose religious heritage is largely based on Buddhism.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis continued his week-long Lenten retreat Monday with members of the Curia in the medieval hill town of Ariccia just south of Rome.

The Pope left the Vatican Sunday afternoon by bus, shortly after reciting the Angelus prayer with the faithful in St.

Peter's square. Francis broke with the tradition of holding the Lenten retreat inside the Vatican, to ensure he and Curia members could get away from work and experience five days of silence and meditation.