Rome, Italy, Apr 2, 2022 / 00:57 am (CNA).
Pope Francis greeted a group of Ukrainian war refugees on Saturday morning before heading to the airport for his first papal flight of 2022.
The group of 15 refugees consisted of mothers and children who found refuge in Italy after Russia’s full-scale invasion of their country.
Among the refugees was a mother of two children, aged five and seven. She came to Italy for a heart surgery for her daughter, according to the Vatican on April 2.
The pope met the group at the Casa Santa Marta, his residence in Vatican City, along with the papal almoner Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, who has served as a papal envoy to Ukraine.
On the eve of his visit, Pope Francis visited the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome, where he prayed before the icon Salus Populi Romani, Mary Protection of the Roman People, entrusting his two-day trip to Malta to the Virgin Mary.
The pope will visit Malta and Gozo, the two largest islands in the archipelago officially known as the Republic of Malta.
He is expected to pray at the Grotto of St. Paul in Rabat on the morning of April 3. According to tradition, the grotto is where Paul the Apostle lived and preached during his three-month stay on the island of Malta in 60 A.D.
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