(ZENIT News / Rome, 05.09.2023).- Pope Francis began the 2023-2024 period with a pastoral journey to Mongolia. The Pope’s presence in a country of Buddhist majority made possible the visibility of the Christian faith of the country’s just over 1,300 Catholics. The trip also entailed five interesting details that, although they didn’t enjoy all the attention due to them, we offer below.
1st The Pope’s photo will all the Mongolian Catholics
Because the Catholic community in the whole of Mongolia does not exceed 1,300 baptized persons, all (in addition to some 700 more Catholics) were able to be in the Pontiff’s meeting with them in the Cathedral of Saint Peter and Saint Paul of Ulaanbaatar. At the end of the meeting there was a special photo taken: the only one in a papal trip in which all the country’s Catholics appear in the same photo with the Pope in a more or less visible and identifiable way.
2nd Chinese Catholics travelled to Mongolia to see the Pope
Although China’s Communist Authorities prohibited their citizens from travelling to Mongolia, some Chinese defied the Authorities and went to the country’s capital. In addition to Chinese lay Catholics, there were two Chinese Bishops present at the Mass on Sunday, September 3: the Archbishop Emeritus of Hong Kong, Cardinal John Tong Hon, and the current Bishop of the same city, Stephen Chow Sau-yan. The Holy Father made a noble gesture to both: he took their hands and raised them. He also greeted the Chinese with these words: “I ask Chinese Catholics to be good Christians and good citizens.”
3rd The Pope gave a copy of an important papyrus to the Chinese Government.
The Pope gave the President of Mongolia an exact copy of a letter of Guyug Khaan, of the Great Mongolian State, which is kept in the Vatican Apostolic Library. It’s a copy made with very advanced technology of Mongol leader Guyug Khaan, third Khaan of the Great Mongolian State, who in 1246 sent a response-letter to Pope Innocent IV: “Today I present respectfully as a gift an official copy of this letter, elaborated with the highest quality and using advanced technology. The gift should become a symbol of the old friendly relations, which are expanding today.”
4th Pope Meets the Woman who found an image of the Virgin
On Saturday, September 2, the Pope met with a Mongolian woman who found an image of the Virgin in a garbage can. Moments later he talked about it during a meeting with Catholics in the Cathedral of Ulaanbaatar:
“Dear friends, on this path of missionary disciples you have a safe pillar, our Heavenly Mother, that — I was very happy to discover — wished to give you a tangible sign of her discreet and caring presence, enabling her image to be found in a dump. A beautiful statue of the Immaculate appeared in a place of waste. She, spotless, immune to sin wished to make herself close to the point of being confused with society’s waste, so that from the filth of garbage the purity of the Holy Mother of God, the Mother of Heaven, has emerged.”
5th The Pope was in one of the small typical Mongolian houses
The housing units that permeate the Mongolia geography are called ger. Not only was the Pope inspired by them in his first public address, but he entered them on at least two occasions: for his meeting with the Mongolian woman who found the Virgin’s image and during his courtesy visit to the President of Mongolia.