Million may turn out for Pope Francis on Seoul trip

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Million may turn out for Pope Francis on Seoul trip

The Seoul city government yesterday announced that Pope Francis will preside over a beatification ceremony in Seoul’s downtown area during his scheduled visit to Korea in mid-August.

In the landmark event on Aug. 16, the pope will beatify 124 Korean martyrs who gave their lives for their faith under Korea’s persecution in the 1800s.

The venues will include Gwanghwamun Plaza, Seoul Plaza and Cheonggye Park near City Hall. The city government estimates more than one million people will attend the event.

Beatification is the third out of four steps in the Catholic Church’s process of canonization, or proclaiming a saint or saints.

The beatification will be the high point of the pope’s five-day visit from Aug. 14 through 18.

The visit will be Pope Francis’s first trip to Asia since being elected last year.

The late Pope John Paul II visited Korea in 1989 where he performed a canonization of 93 Korean and 10 French martyrs.

The ceremony will last two hours and 20 minutes starting 10:00 a.m.

The pope will march along Sejong-daero in Gwanghwamun as part of a parade and conduct a Mass.

The Seoul government will control traffic on surrounding roads and close City Hall Station, Gwanghwamun Station and Gyeongbokgung Station.

One of the major events held during the pope’s visit will be the sixth Asian Youth Day, a smaller regional version of the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day, scheduled from Aug. 13 through 17, in Daejeon.

The pope will also meet President Park Geun-hye on Aug. 14. Korea is a rare nation into which Catholicism was introduced without priests or missionaries.

The religion was first introduced in the late 1700s by Yi Seung-hun, who interacted with priests in China and brought in the Bible from China. He later died a martyr.

During the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), the Catholic Church suffered relentless persecution at the hands of the royal kingdom, mainly for denying ancestral worship.

The brutal oppression claimed the lives of more than 8,000 faithful during that era.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]


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