Catholics in Cyprus eagerly await papal visit

Wed May 26, 2010 10:07am EDT
 
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By Sarah Ktisti

NICOSIA (Reuters Life!) - Miles away from home, Cyprus's tiny Catholic community of mainly migrant workers is getting ready for a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see Pope Benedict on his visit to the island in June.

The island is home to a large Filipino and Sri Lankan population, who left their homelands for the small island of Cyprus which stands at the crossroads of Europe and Asia.

Many of them work as domestic help and look forward to their weekly get together at Sunday mass.

Scarlet Tugbo, 38 years old from the Philippines has been in Cyprus for 13 years and is part of the media and communications team preparing for the Papal visit.

"I'm so excited. I wish I can touch him, I can hug him. I am speechless, I don't know my feeling when I see him. It's a big pleasure. I hope we can enjoy this event," she said.

Benedict is visiting Cyprus to follow in the footsteps of Saint Paul the apostle, who preached on the island in 47 AD.

The island's Greek Cypriot population are predominantly members of the Greek Orthodox faith, but the numbers of Catholics have swelled in recent years as more and more migrants move to the island.

Government data put the number of Filipinos and Sri Lankans at 22,000 strong in April 2009. They are evenly spread out across Cyprus.   Continued...

 
<p>A woman prays in Nicosia May 9, 2010, as Cyprus's tiny Catholic community of mainly migrant workers gets ready for a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see the Pope on his visit to the island in June. REUTERS/Andreas Manolis</p>