New details have emerged about Pope Francis’ plans to visit Ireland in 2018 – most notably, that he will also be visiting Northern Ireland.
Following the Pope’s visit to the US in October, the Vatican announced that he had personally selected Ireland as the location for the 2018 World Meeting of Families, and that a larger Irish visit would likely be in store.
Now, Ireland’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has provided The Irish Catholic with further details about the Pope’s plans for Ireland.
He indicated that a visit to Ireland was of great importance to the Vatican and to the Pope, revealing that Francis told him “‘I will come, and if I don’t come, my successor will come.”
The Irish Catholic reports that, in addition to Dublin, Pope Francis is anticipated to make pilgrimage to some of Ireland’s monastic sites, as well as the shrine at Knock. In Northern Ireland, he will likely visit Armagh, home to St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
A Vatican source also told The Irish Catholic, “It would obviously be the hope that the Holy Father would make a visit to Northern Ireland and, perhaps, some other parts of Ireland since many Irish Catholics will want to have an opportunity to attend Mass with Pope Francis.”
A trip into Northern Ireland would hold special symbolism, as it would complete the journey Pope John Paul II had hoped to make during his visit to Ireland in 1979. It was deemed too risky for him to cross the border, so instead he went to Drogheda, 30 miles south of the border, where he gave an impassioned call for peace in Northern Ireland.
Pope John Paul II also visited Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Knock.
While 2018 will mark Francis’ first visit to Ireland as Pontiff, he has spent significant time in Dublin before. He lived there for four months in 1980, learning English at the Jesuit center in Dublin’s Milltown Institute.