Pope Francis takes his trip to Geneva on 21 June 2018.
Rome Newsroom, Sep 28, 2022 / 04:57 am (CNA).
Wednesday, the Vatican confirmed that Pope Francis will visit Bahrain, a Muslim island nation in the Persian Gulf, from November 3-6.
The potential of a papal visit to the Islamic monarchy was discussed on the pope’s Sept. 15 return flight from Kazakhstan.
Matteo Bruni, director of the Holy See Press Office, stated on September 28 that Pope Francis will go to Awali and Manama for the “Bahrain Forum for Dialogue: East and West for Human Coexistence.”
Additional information and the whole itinerary will be released at a later date.
Bahrain, situated between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, has a population of 1.7 million. The majority of the population adheres to the Shiite sect of Islam, which is the country’s official religion.
Christians constitute approximately 14% of the total population, followed by Hindus at 10%.
Many of Bahrain’s estimated 80,000 Catholics are immigrants from Asia, mainly the Philippines and India.
The Cathedral of Our Lady of Arabia was consecrated on December 10, 2021 in Awali, a small municipality about 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Manama.
The ark-shaped Catholic cathedral was constructed as part of a 95,000 square foot structure. Bishop Camillo Ballin, the vicar apostolic of Northern Arabia, conceived of the church in 2020, shortly before he passed away and was unable to see it built.
In 1948, the title Our Lady of Arabia was approved. On December 8 of that year, a tiny chapel was dedicated in her honor in Ahmadi, Kuwait.
Pius XII issued a decree in 1957 designating Our Lady of Arabia as the principal patron saint of the area and of the Apostolic Vicariate of Kuwait.
The Vatican designated Our Lady of Arabia as the patron saint of the vicariates of Kuwait and Arabia in 2011.
Later that year, the Holy See reformed the Vicariate of Kuwait, renaming it the Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia and adding Qatar, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia to its territory.