Pope Francis will travel to Albania on Sunday, despite a recent warning from Iraq's ambassador to the Holy See that the pontiff could be targeted there by Islamist State jihadists.
This is the pope’s first visit outside Italy to a European country. Albania is predominantly Muslim.
Francis has said he wants to visit Albania to highlight the rebirth of Christianity that was brutally abolished during communist rule. The Roman Catholic Church leader has said that Albania is an example where Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and Muslims are working together to govern the country.
Francis is expected to meet with President Bujar Nishani, Prime Minister Edi Rama, and other top Albanian officials.
Albanians of all denominations are expected to fill the streets of the capital, Tirana, to receive the pope with the same exuberant hospitality they have offered to other foreign dignitaries, including U.S. President George W. Bush in 2007, during their stays in the country.
Some information for this report comes from AP, AFP and Reuters.