An Iraqi official announced, on Monday, that Pope Francis will visit several Iraqi cities, including the ancient city of Ur (south), in his first visit to the country this week.

The Iraqi Minister of Culture, Hassan Nazim, said in a press conference: “The Pope is scheduled to arrive in Baghdad (within days), and during his four-day visit, he will conduct several official meetings and visits to several religious and archaeological sites.

Nazim added, “His Holiness the Pope will have meetings with political and social elites, dialogue leaders, clerics, and civil society activists.”

And he added, “It will also have an expected presence in the ancient city of Ur in Dhi Qar Governorate.”

And the ancient city of Ur was the capital of the Sumerian state in 2100 BC, and it is the birthplace of the Prophet Abraham Al Khalil in 2000 BC.

The city also includes the ancient ziggurat (temples of the gods), and the temple of the goddess Inanna, the goddess of the moon, according to what was mentioned in the myths of Sumerian mythology.

He continued, “The other major stop is Najaf (south) and the historic meeting with the supreme religious authority, Ali al-Sistani, with the aim of discussing issues of religious dialogue.”

He added, “The last stop of the Pope during his visit to Iraq will be the cities of Mosul and Erbil (north), and he will continue his meetings and prayers for the victims who were killed at the hands of the terrorist organization ISIS.”

Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Iraq between 5 and 8 March, which is the first-ever visit of the Pope of the Vatican to the country.

Iraq is characterized by a multiplicity of ethnicities and religions, as Christians come as the second-largest religion, with about 450,000 people, according to unofficial estimates, after their number was close to 1.8 million before the overthrow of the former regime in 2003.

Many Iraqi Christians immigrated to Europe, the United States, and other countries, fleeing the security turmoil and being targeted in some cases by terrorist organizations, especially Al Qaeda and ISIS, according to observers.new

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