Istanbul's Catholic community awaits Pope Francis' visit
Catholic clergy gathered in centralIstanbul on Monday ahead of Pope Francis' visit to Turkey from November 28-30 Anadolu Agency reported
The Istanbul Latin Catholic Church Bishop Monsignor Louis Pelatre said the Supreme Pontiff's visit will include the cities of Ankara andIstanbul.
"Although the media has said that the Pope will visit the Virgin Mary's House in Izmir, it will not happen. Pope Francis will visit only Ankara and Istanbul," he said.
The House of the Virgin Mary in Selcuk, located in the western province of Izmir, has been visited by three previous popes - Pope Paul VI in 1967, Pope John Paul II in 1976 and Pope Benedict XVI in 2006.
Pope Francis will be the fourth pope to visit Turkey. The last to come was Pope Benedict XVI in 2006.
Pope Francis is scheduled to touch down on Turkish soil at 1 p.m local time (10.00 GMT) on November 28, in Ankara, and to leave at 4.45 p.m. (13:45 GMT) on November 30 from Istanbul.
The Pope's visit will help to improve the dialogue between Turkey and the Vatican, Bishop Pelatre said. "Pope Francis chose to land first in Ankara, which means he wishes to strenghen the relations between the two countries," he added.
During his three-day visit, the spiritual leader of the world's one billion Catholics will meet President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkey's top Muslim cleric, Mehmet Gormez.
The Supreme Pontiff will hold a Holy Mass at the Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Istanbul and privately meet Istanbul-based Greek Patriarch Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of the world's Eastern Orthodox churches.
He is also expected to visit the mausoleum of Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in Ankara, and in Istanbul to visit the Hagia Sofia museum.
The Pope will also visit the Sultan Ahmet (Blue) Mosque in Istanbul.
His visit will come three days after he addresses the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
The Pope's visit comes at a difficult time for people of various religions in the Middle East, and at a time that Turkey hosts more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees.
Syria's civil war has left more than 191,000 people dead since it began three years-and-a-half ago, according to a UN report released in August.
Iraqi Christians have also fled their homes in fear of their lives, during the violence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant militants, with most of them arriving in Turkey.