Francis's March 5-8 Iraq trip will be the first to a Shiite majority country, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni announced on March 2.
It will also be the first time that a Pope will celebrate a liturgy in the Chaldean rite.
Cardinal Fernando Filoni will accompany Francis, a former papal ambassador to Baghdad. He remained there when the US invaded the country in 2003. Filoni survived the bombings but didn't survive Francis who ousted him in December 2019 as the Prefect of the Mission Congregation.
On every papal trip abroad, a simple Vatican employee ist invited to join. For this trip, Francis chose a nurse from the Vatican health service in order to highlight Covid-19 hype. Bruni joked that her presence could be helpful to journalists in case anything happened.
He confirmed that it was "probable" that Francis will use an armoured car while in Iraq.
Asked why Francis is going to Iraq despite Covid-19, Bruni said that health precautions are taken, social distance will be observed and that the trip will be different from Francis' pre-Covid-19 trips,
Francis will take aboard the plane a copy of the statue of Our Lady of Loreto, the patroness of pilots.
The virgin of the Mystical Rose pointed out that the unfaithful priests have pierced her heart with sacrilege, the vice of impurity and, betrayal of faith.
Islam portrays Mary as Muhammad's wife in paradise, warns scholar (Note: The Arabic word for “marriage” (نكاح, or nikah, denotes “legal sexual relations,” connotes the “F” word, and is wholly devoid of Western, “romantic,” or Platonic connotations.)