In thanksgiving to the Blessed Mother for the success of his short but eventful trip to Albania, Pope Francis paid a visit on Monday morning to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major. Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the Pope spent time before the icon of Our Lady salus populi Romani — Protectress of the Roman people — and left the bouquet of flowers he had received Sunday during his meeting at the Betania Home for the disabled in Tirana, Albania. Those in the Basilica at the time joined the Holy Father as he recited the Salve Regina. The Sept. 21 apostolic journey was Pope Francis' first to a European country since his election to the papacy. Early in the day the Holy Father delivered an address to Albania's leaders and the diplomatic corps, in which he praised the “coexistence” between members of different faiths in the country, while condemning those who “consider themselves to be the 'armour' of God while planning and carrying out acts of violence and oppression.” After the angelus prayer, the Pope had lunch with Albania's bishops at the Apostolic Nunciature. Later in the day he took part in an interfaith meeting with religious leaders at “Our Lady of Good Council” Catholic university. Pope Francis concluded his visit by meeting with children at the “Centro Betania,” as well as representatives of charitable organizations in Albania.
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