Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis intends to travel to the tiny European nation of Luxembourg and neighboring Belgium less than two weeks after his scheduled four-nation tour of Asia in September, the director of the Vatican press office said.

“Accepting the invitation of the respective heads of state and church authorities, the Holy Father Francis will make an apostolic journey to Luxembourg Sept. 26 and to Belgium, Sept. 26-29, traveling to Brussels, Leuven and Louvain-la-Neuve,” Matteo Bruni, the director, said in a statement May 20.

Details about the trip “will be published in due course,” he added.

The main focus of the trip to Belgium, which is just a two-hour flight away from Rome, is to mark the founding of the oldest Catholic university still in existence in the world, the Catholic University of Leuven, which celebrates its 600th anniversary during the 2024-2025 academic year.

Founded in 1425 with a decree by Pope Martin V, today the university is split into the Dutch-speaking KU Leuven, located in Leuven, and the French-speaking UCLouvain, which was moved to Louvain-la-Neuve.

Brussels serves as the de facto capital of the European Union, hosting the headquarters of the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the formal seat of European Parliament and the European Council.

The last time a pope visited Belgium was in 1995 when St. John Paul II went to Brussels for the beatification of St. Damien De Veuster.

St. John Paul also visited the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in 1985.

The trip would come less than two weeks after what would be the longest trip of Pope Francis’ papacy. He is scheduled to visit Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and Singapore Sept. 3-13.

The logo for Pope Francis’ September 26 trip to Luxembourg is seen displaying the trip’s motto: “To Serve.” The logo and motto were released by the Vatican June 25, 2024. (CNS photo/Holy See Press Office)