Monday, 31 October 2016

Royal hosts for a Papal Visit to Sweden

The King and Queen of Sweden with Pope Francis in Lund on October 31st 2016

King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia have welcomed Pope Francis to Sweden for an ecumenical commemoration of the Reformation. They met in Lund, where the Lutheran World Federation was founded, for this special prayer service which is part of a year of commemorations marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

Carl Gustaf, Silvia and Francis began their day with a meeting at the Royal Hall in Lund where the King and Queen of Sweden provided an official welcome for the Pope. It is the first papal visit to Sweden since 1989 when John Paul II toured the country.

There was a chance for King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia to talk to the papal delegation before they held a private audience with Pope Francis. 

But the focal point of the day was an ecumenical service held at Lund Cathedral which had been built before the Reformation and which is now Church of Sweden. Pope Francis addressed the service, saying that the Reformation had helped place more importance on the Bible and that it was time for both the Catholic and Lutheran churches to mend past mistakes and seek forgiveness from one another.

Martin Luther is said to have pinned his 95 theses, calling for reformation of the Church, to a church door of Wittenberg on October 31st 1517. As the final year countdown to the 500th anniversary of that day that changed Europe forever gets under way, this service is the first of many commemorations planned across the continent. The events are already under way, with Carl Gustaf and Silvia taking part in projects marking the anniversary during their recent State Visit to Germany. And this historic visit by Pope Francis to Sweden has seen them become further involved again.

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