The visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to our country continued with an official state welcome in the presidential residence “Vila Vodno” where the guest and his accompanying delegation of cardinals, among whom the State Secretary Pietro Parolin were welcome with highest state honors.
After the intonation of the national anthems of Vatican and the Republic of North Macedonia, the parade of the guard of honor and the salutation of national flag of the Republic of North Macedonia, Pope Francis had separate meetings with President Ivanov and Prime Minister Zaev who were accompanied with members of their families.
Afterwards, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, addressed the present guests from the national institutions of our country, before representatives of the diplomatic corps and representatives of the social society and media.
In his speech Pope Francis extended his gratitude for the opportunity to visit our country, which is the first visit of an apostolic successor to St. Peter on the 25th anniversary as of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of North Macedonia and the Holy See.
“Your land, a bridge between East and West and a meeting-point for numerous cultural currents, embodies many of the distinctive marks of this region. With the elegant testimonies of its Byzantine and Ottoman past, its lofty mountain fortresses and the splendid iconostases of its ancient churches, which speak of a Christian presence dating back to apostolic times, North Macedonia reflects all the depth and richness of its millennial culture. But allow me to say that these great cultural treasures are themselves only a reflection of your more precious patrimony: the multiethnic and multi-religious countenance of your people, the legacy of a rich and, indeed, complex history of relationships forged over the course of the centuries” – underlined Pope Francis in his first address before the Macedonian public within the frames of his Apostolic visit to our country.
Further in his address Pope Francis underlined the solidarity and humanity that, during the refugee tragedy, was shown by the citizens and the authorized humanitarian organizations in the Republic of North Macedonia. Afterwards, he spoke of the mission of St. Mother Theresa who, being our fellow-citizen, expanded her mission for help to the deprived, rejected and most poor people from Skopje.
“I encourage you to persevere with confidence along the path you have taken, in order to make your country a beacon of peace, acceptance and fruitful integration between cultures, religions and peoples. Drawing from their respective identities and the vitality of their cultural and civil life, they will thus be able to build a common destiny in openness to the enrichment that each has to offer. May God protect and bless North Macedonia, preserve it in concord and grant it prosperity and joy!” – appealed the Holy Father, Pope Francis in his address from the presidential residence Vila Vodno after meeting with President Ivanov and Prime Minister Zaev.