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Martyrs and youth the focus of Pope’s visit to South Korea

The Pope will celebrate Mass in Daejon’s World Cup Stadium during his visit to South Korea (PA)

The Pope will beatify 124 Korean martyrs and attend a festival for young Asian Catholics during his four-day visit to South Korea later this year, the Vatican has announced.

Pope Francis will also meet President Park Guen-Hye and celebrate a Mass for peace and reconciliation in Seoul’s Myeong-dong Cathedral.

The visit will take place from August 14-18 and is the Pope’s first papal visit to Asia.

The last papal visit to the continent was in 1995, when St John Paul II gathered with millions of young Catholics for World Youth Day in Manila, the Philippines.

News of the visit has been greeted with joy by Korean Catholics in Britain.

Fr Sangmok Kwon is parish priest to the Korean Catholic Church in London, which is based on Benhill Wood Road, Sutton.

He said: “Our congregation feels honoured and excited that the Pope is visiting Korea. The beatification of the Korean martyrs is recognition of how the Catholic faith was brought to Korea.”

The beatification Mass for Paul Yun Ji-chung and 123 companions will take place in Seoul on August 16.

The Pope will also meet young people at a shrine in honour of St Andrew Kim Taegon, the first Catholic priest in Korea. He was canonised by St John Paul II along with 102 fellow martyrs on the former pope’s 1984 visit to Seoul.

Around 2,000 young people from 30 countries are expected to gather for the sixth Asian Youth Day, which is being held in the diocese of Daejon.

The Pope will celebrate Mass in Daejon’s World Cup Stadium and have lunch with young people on August 15. He will also celebrate the festival’s closing Mass on August 17 at Haemi Castle.

The papal visit will close with the Mass for peace and reconciliation. It is currently unclear whether North Korean Catholics will be invited to attend the Mass.

Fr Kwon hoped that the Pope’s visit would promote peace between the two nations.

He said: “The Pope will celebrate Mass to symbolise peace between South and North Korea. This will empower Catholics in Korea to work for peace.”

Highlights of Pope Francis’ visit to Korea include:

Thursday, August 14
– 3.45pm: Welcome ceremony in the Blue House and private meeting with President Park Guen-Hye

Friday, August 15
– 10.30am: Mass for the Solemnity of the Assumption in Daejeon World Cup Stadium followed by lunch with young people
– 5.30pm: Meeting with young people at Solmoe shrine to St Andrew Kim Taegon

Saturday, August 16
– 8.55am: Visit to shrine of the Seo So Mun martyrs followed by Mass and beatification of Paul Yun Ji-chung and 123 companions in Seoul
– 4.30pm: Visit to the “House of Hope”, a centre for people with disabilities in Kkottongnae

Sunday, August 17
– 11am: Meeting with Asian bishops at Haemi shrine
– 4.30pm: Closing Mass for Asian Youth Day at Haemi Castle

Monday, August 18
– 9.45am: Mass for peace and reconciliation in Myeong-dong Cathedral, Seoul, followed by farewell ceremony and departure


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