Francis took his leave of the Antananarivo nunciature greeting a dozen poor elderly women representing the people assisted every Friday by the nunciature.
Antananarivo (AsiaNews) - Pope Francis has left Madagascar and is on his return flight to Rome, where he is scheduled to arrive at 7 pm local time.
This morning, in the nunciature of Antananarivo, Francis celebrated Mass and then greeted the staff of the residence, the benefactors, the friends of the pontifical representation and a dozen poor elderly women representing the people assisted every Friday by the nunciature.
At the nunciature, Francis left a medal by Daniela Longo as a gift. The medal depicts the Baobab tree, symbol of Mozambique, flanked by the Latin date of the apostolic journey. On the right of the medal is depicted traveler's palm, the national emblem of Madagascar and, next to it, the sea and a part of the sun, in reference to the Indian Ocean that bathes all three countries and the tropical climate. In the center stands the Cross, surrounded by rays, towards which a "Paille-en-queve", the bird which is the national symbol of Mauritius, flies. At the bottom of the center is the Latin wording of the Apostolic Journey.
Francis travelled by car to the airport, where he was greeted by the President of the Republic of Madagascar, Andry Rajoelina, and his wife. Then, the greeting to the Malagasy bishops before he boarded at 8.14am local time on an A340neo of Air Madagascar, which took off at 9.37am local time.
Immediately after takeoff, the Pope sent a telegram to the President of Madagascar in which he thanks him for the "warm welcome and invokes the blessings of Almighty God on the nation".