ROME — Pope Francis on Monday will visit New Yorkers for the first time in more than a decade, the first pontiff in nearly a century to visit the borough of New York and its suburbs.
Francis will celebrate Mass in a church at the former site of the United Nations headquarters in midtown Manhattan, the Vatican said.
He is to address the nation from a chapel at St. John Paul II’s former residence on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where he first began his pontificate.
The pope will attend a Mass in the lower-level St. Mary’s Cathedral.
The Vatican said in a statement that the pontiff will take part in a three-day visit that is expected to attract up to 3 million people.
The visit marks the first by a pope in a place other than Rome, a historically Catholic country with a large Muslim population, where Muslims make up less than 2% of the population.
The visit comes after Pope Francis was elected to lead the Catholic Church in the United States, and comes as he has sought to diversify his flock and address global challenges.
The pope’s arrival in the U.S. marks a milestone in his efforts to make himself a more visible presence in the world, especially on social media, the church said.
The pontiff is the first pope to visit NYC since Pope John Paul I in 1983, and the first to visit a major U.N. building since Pope Benedict XVI in 2010.
The U.K.’s ambassador to the Holy See, Andrew Lloyd Webber, said the pope will have a “very, very positive impact” on U.T.S., adding that he is “a very strong leader in the church in the region.”
The pope will be accompanied by the pope’s family, who are also expected to travel with him.
Francis is the youngest pontiff ever to visit America, and has been hailed by his followers for his social media savvy.