Pope to meet Turkish president, Ecumenical Patriarch in November

(Photo: REUTERS / Murad Seze)Local and foreign visitors, with the Byzantine-era monument of Hagia Sophia in the background, stroll at Sultanahmet square in Istanbul August 23, 2013. Pope Francis will visit the former Greek Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later an imperial mosque, and now a museum when he visits Turkey in late November 2014.

Pope Francis is scheduled to meet with Turkey's highest officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, when he makes his trip to Ankara and Istanbul next month.

The Vatican's the itinerary for the Pope's November 28-30 trip, will also have Francis meeting and praying with Orthodox leaders.

He will also visit the Hagia Sophia, a former Greek Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later an imperial mosque, and now a museum as well as the Blue Mosque, as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque is popularly known.

Francis is set to join Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople for the celebrations of the feast of St. Andrew on November 30, Catholic New Service reported.

Both the Pope and the patriarch send delegations to their respective churches yearly for the feast of the churches' patron saints: on June 29 at the Vatican for the feasts of Saints Peter and Paul, and on November 30 for the feast of Saint Andrew.

Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive in Ankara, the Turkish capital, on November 28, when he is slated to meet Erdogan, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and the head of the country's religious affairs office.

The head of the Turkish religious affairs office is the country's highest Muslim authority.

Turkey is an overwhelmingly Muslim country with 99 percent of its 81 million people followers of Sunni Islam and 0.2 are Christians and Jews.

Francis will fly to Istanbul after a day in Ankara, and he is expected to visit the Hagia Sophia Museum, once known as the finest church during the Christian Byzantine Empire.

The Hagia Sophia became a mosque in the 15th century then authorities converted it into a museum in 1935 when Turkey became a secular state.

After Hagia Sophia, Francis will also visit the Blue Mosque popularly named because of its turquoise ceramic tiles in the 400-year-old structure's interior.

The Pope will hold a private meeting with Bartholomew in the run up to the feast of St. Andrew on November 30 which he will concelebrate with the patriarch.

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