Pope Francis makes four-day visit to Thailand hinh anh 1Pope Francis speaks in the Vatican on September 1 (Photo: AFP/VNA)

Bangkok (VNA) – Pope Francis arrived in Thailand on November 20 for a four-day visit to the Southeast Asian nation.

The trip marks the 350th anniversary of the establishment of a stable apostolic vicariate in Thailand and also the first visit to the country by a head of the Roman Catholic Church in 35 years, after the tour by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1984.

On November 21 morning, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha welcomed Pope Francis with a ceremony at the Government House in Bangkok.

Pope Francis met with representatives of civil organisations and diplomatic corps and visited the Supreme Buddhist Patriarch of Thailand, Somdet Phra Ariyavongsagatanana IX, at Wat Ratchabophit Sathit Maha Simaram temple in Bangkok.

At the meeting with representatives of civil organisations, officials and diplomats, he said the meeting with the Supreme Buddhist Patriarch of Thailand was a sign of the importance and urgency of promoting friendship and inter-religious dialogue.

He is expected to visit Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn (Rama X) and attend a holy mass at the Supachalasai National Stadium in the capital city later the same day.

On November 22, the pontiff will visit St. Louis Hospital and disabled persons, and meet priests, monks and seminarians of some parishes in Thailand. He will leave Bangkok for Japan on November 23 morning.

Thailand and the Vatican officially set up diplomatic ties in 1969. 

Up to 93 percent of the 69 million people in Thailand are Buddhist followers. There are about 388,000 Catholics in the country, accounting for 0.58 percent of the population./.