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Tight security as Cyprus prepares to welcome Pope

pope francis holds weekly general audience at the vatican
Pope Francis arrives to attend the weekly general audience at the Paul VI Audience Hall, at the Vatican on Wednesday

Over 500 police officers from multiple branches of the force will be deployed for Pope Francis’ two-day visit to Cyprus.

A rapid response unit (MMAD) will be on duty for the entire duration of the Pontiff’s visit. He is scheduled to land at Larnaca airport at 3pm on Thursday, where he will be received by House President Annita Demetriou and members of the Council of Ministers.

The Pope will be accompanied by a police escort and a police helicopter will also monitor his movements throughout the entire visit.

Police have also said that precautions on Thursday and Friday will be stepped up, meaning road closures and diversions for motorists are to be expected.

More specifically, starting from Thursday morning, there will be a diversion on Markou Drakou Avenue in Nicosia and at the junction of Rigenis and Arsinois. The diversions will only be lifted on Saturday at 10am.

Moreover, police are urging people who will be attending the Holy Mass at GSP Stadium, which is scheduled to start at 10am on Friday, to arrive as early as possible to avoid congestion on site. All people will be required to show their Safe Pass in order to gain access to the event. The stadium’s gates will be open to the public from 7am.

Pope Francis will visit the Maronite Cathedral of Our Lady of Grace in Nicosia at 4pm on Thursday, before moving to the Presidential Palace, where he will meet President Nicos Anastasiades at 5.30pm, who will brief him on latest developments regarding the Cyprus problem, as well as the ongoing migrants’ crisis in the island.

On Friday, the Pontiff will first visit the Holy Archbishopric of Cyprus at 8.30am. From there he will make his way to the Apostle Varnavas Cathedral.

After the Holy Mass at GSP Stadium, Pope Francis will hold an ecumenical prayer with migrants and asylum seekers at the Catholic Church of the Holy Cross near the Paphos Gate at 4pm.

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