After two days in Malta, this Sunday, April 3, Pope Francis concluded his first apostolic journey of 2022.
At 19:15 pm (local time), one hour later than scheduled, the Air Malta plane carrying the Pope, his entourage and accredited journalists took off from Malta International Airport for Fiumicino Airport.
The President of the Republic of Malta, George William Vella, and the Prime Minister, Robert Abela, together with their relatives and some bishops, bid farewell to Pope Francis at the airport.
The Pontiff arrived in Malta on the morning of April 2 as a “pilgrim in the footsteps of the Apostle Saint Paul.” They have been two days full of official events, ceremonies and meetings in which a Pontiff has been seen who, despite the fatigue and problems caused by his knee disease, he has not lost his smile and energy.
“Above all, I will keep many faces in my heart, and the luminous face of Malta,” the Pope said at the end of the Angelus prayer this Sunday, April 3.
After the welcoming ceremony at the airport, the Pope traveled by car to the Grand Master’s Palace in Valletta, the capital of Malta, for the courtesy visit and private meetings with the President and the Prime Minister, from where he invoked “unity and peace for the peoples and the whole world”.
Later, the Holy Father signed the book of honor and the traditional exchange of gifts took place.
His first speech was made before the Maltese diplomatic corps and authorities, where he encouraged protect life “at all times from discarding and abandonment”, and to welcome the migrant.
At the end, he went out onto the balcony to greet the thousands of young people who cheered him from the square, shouting Long live Pope Francis!
One of the most iconic moments of the trip was his transfer by catamaran to the island of Gozo, where he presided over a prayer meeting at the Ta’ Pinu Shrine.
In addition, on his return to Malta he starred in one of the anecdotes of the trip by stopping to greet a newlywed couple.
This Sunday, April 3, the Pope visited the grotto of Saint Paul in the city of Rabatoccasion in which he also greeted leaders of different Christian confessions, sick people and a group of prisoners.
In this way, Francisco became the third pontiff to pray in this sacred place after the historic visits of Saint John Paul II on May 27, 1990 and Benedict XVI on April 17, 2010.
Then, from the Granaries of Floriana and in the presence of 20,000 people, Pope Francis presided over a Eucharistic celebration, where he assured that “when we open our hearts to the truth, the Lord can do great things in us”, since “ the teacher is not satisfied with the appearance, but seeks the truth of the heart”.
In the last official event of his apostolic trip to Malta, Pope Francis met with migrants and refugees in the “John XXIII Peace Laboratory” whom he encouraged to be “witnesses of the human values essential for a dignified and fraternal life”.