BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Pope Francis arrived in Slovakia on Sunday for a four-day visit, where he will meet with Holocaust survivors and members of the Roma community.
Francis, who briefly visited Hungary and called for believers to be “grounded and open” after meeting Prime Minister Viktor Orban, was greeted by President Zuzana Caputova in Bratislava.
To mark his arrival, bells tolled in all of Slovakia’s 2,627 Catholic churches at the exact time his plane landed.
Francis is due to deliver an address later on Sunday at the Vatican embassy in Slovakia — a predominantly Catholic country with a population of 5.4 million people.
Meeting Christian and Jewish leaders in Hungary on Sunday, Pope Francis warned of “the threat of antisemitism still lurking in Europe and elsewhere.”
On Monday, he is due to meet Slovakia’s Jewish community, which was decimated by the Holocaust.
The pope will then travel to the country’s poorer eastern regions on Tuesday for a meeting with the Roma community before returning to Bratislava on Wednesday and holding an open-air Mass in Sastin, a town north of the capital.
The government had initially ordered that only vaccinated people should be allowed to attend public events with the pope, but reversed the policy last week after low numbers of registrations.
Unvaccinated people can now attend — as long as they test negative for COVID-19 or can prove they previously had COVID.
Only around half the population of Slovakia is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — one of the lowest rates in the European Union.