Pope Francis wraps up historic Transylvania visit

Pope Francis has completed his first visit to Csíksomlyó, a region in Romania with a sizeable Roman Catholic population, most of whom are ethnic Hungarian.

Pope Francis completed on Sunday his three-day visit to Romania, including a historic first visit and Holy Mass at the Catholic pilgrimage site of Csíksomlyó (Romanian: Sumuleu Ciuc) in Transylvania.

Csíksomlyó, a region in Romania with a sizeable Roman Catholic population, is made up of mostly ethnic Hungarians.

Rmx.news highlights that the Pope's three-day visit began in the capital, Bucharest then Csíksomlyó, Balázsfalva (also in Transylvania) and the northeast Romanian city of Iași.

While Pope Francis's visit balanced to include all major religious denominations (Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic), its focal point was Saturday’s visit to the Mass at the Csíksomlyó pilgrimage site, the largest of its kind in the Carpathian basin.

It was also the first ever visit of a pope to Transylvania. In 1999, John Paul II – a Pole and the first non-Italian pope since the 16th century – made another historic visit to Romania. That was the first papal visit to a country with an Orthodox majority.

At the time, John Paul II promised that he will also visit Transylvania, but it eventually took another twenty years for a papal visit to materialize.

"Pilgrimage sites are locations for feast and celebration, for tears and supplication," the pope said, adding that the Csíksomlyó site respects both Romanian and Hungarian religious customs. He also said that pilgrims of faiths other than Roman Catholic attending the Mass was a sign of dialogue, unity and friendship.

Pope Francis said that all people are God's own and that past events should not prevent brotherly co-existence.

"We should not allow the voices and wounds that fuel separation and division rob us of fraternal feelings. We should neither forget, nor deny the sad and complex past events, but should not constitute neither obstacles, nor excuses for preventing the desired brotherly co-existence," Pope Francis said.

On Sunday – breaking with recent Vatican practice – Pope Francis beatified seven bishops of the Greek Catholic church, who all died due to persecution in communist Romania, unwilling to give up their faith.

Photo credit: origo.hu