London, Aug 14 IANS | 4 months ago

Pope Francis arrived Thursday in South Korea, beginning his first visit to Asia since he took over the papacy in March 2013, media reported.

During his trip, he will beatify 124 Korean Catholics who died for their faith in the 18th and 19th Centuries, BBC reported.

The beatification ceremony will be held Saturday at Gwanghwamun Square in central Seoul, with up to one million people expected to attend.

President Park Geun-hye was at the Incheon International Airport to greet Francis.

Francis would also attend Asian Youth Day, a festival for young Catholics from across the region.

He is also scheduled to meet students who survived the Sewol ferry disaster that claimed more than 300 lives.

A Mass for Peace and Reconciliation will be held in the Myeong-dong cathedral in Seoul Monday, on the final day of his trip.

Meanwhile, on his way to South Korea the Pope also sent a telegram to China's leaders, a tradition when the pontiff flies over a country.

"I extend my best wishes to your excellency and your fellow citizens, and I invoke divine blessings of peace and well being upon the nation," the telegram said.

The Vatican has no ties with Beijing, which does not recognise the Vatican's authority and runs its own Catholic Church.

The South Korean Catholic Church is one of the fastest growing in the world, with just over 5.4 million members, some 10.4 percent of the population.

(Posted on 14-08-2014)

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