The Vatican confirmed today that Pope Francis will travel twice to the city where an evangelical pastor from Buenos Aires is living, in order to meet with local Catholics in addition to visiting his old friend.
In a statement released July 17, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis has added a day onto his already-planned trip to the city of Caserta in the Campania region of Italy to visit Pastor Giovanni Traettino, who is an old friend from his time in Buenos Aires.
The pontiff will travel to Caserta on the afternoon of July 26, where he has accepted the invitation of the diocese’s bishop, Giovanni D'Avise. Upon his arrival, the Pope will meet with local Catholics and celebrate Mass for the feast of St. Ann, most likely in the park of the Royal Palace of Caserta.
He will then make the trip back to Rome that evening so that he can recite the Angelus prayer with faithful in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, as he does every week.
The following day, July 28, the Bishop of Rome will return to Caserta to pay a private visit to his longtime friend, Evangelical pastor Giovanni Traettino, and his community.
In the initial July 10 announcement of the visit, the Vatican revealed that the idea of making the trip to pastor Traettino’s church of the Reconciliation in Caserta originally sprang from an encounter Pope Francis had with a group of evangelical pastors in the Vatican last month, during which the pontiff expressed his desire to visit the pastor’s church.
The visit with Pastor Traettino “will be a strictly private, simple and quick” encounter, the statement read.
Caserta lies in southern Italy and is a prominent agricultural, commercial and industrial commune. It is roughly a two-and-a-half hour drive from Vatican City.
Pope Francis’ visit to Caserta will mark his third trip to an Italian city outside of the Vatican this summer, the first being to the town of Cassano all'Jonio June 21, and the second to the Italian cities of Campobasso and Isernia July 5.
His next scheduled trip is his Aug. 14-18 visit to South Korea, during which he will meet with both government and religious leaders as well as Asian youth, and which will follow the theme “Rise Korea, clothe yourself in light, the Lord’s glory shines upon you.”