SKOPJE, North Macedonia — Pope Francis paid a 10-hour visit to North Macedonia on Tuesday and prayed at the memorial of the country’s most famous native daughter, Mother Teresa.
After landing at Skopje’s airport, Francis went by car — a typically small Volkswagen Jetta — for talks with outgoing President Gjore Ivanov.
Francis was later surrounded by Mother Teresa’s sari-clad Sisters of Charity nuns in praying before the memorial, built in the remains of the church where the nun was baptized in 1910.
He also celebrated a Mass for the tiny Catholic community in the country of 2.1 million.
North Macedonia’s previous constitutional name was the Republic of Macedonia. It officially changed its name to North Macedonia in February as part of an agreement to end an almost three-decade long dispute with Greece, which blocked the former Yugoslav republic’s path to membership in NATO and the E.U. over rights to the Macedonia name.
The country has been an E.U. candidate since 2005, but is still waiting for the start of membership talks with the bloc. With the name dispute now resolved, North Macedonia hopes to get a clear signal for the start of accession talks in June. It expects to become the 30th NATO member at the end of this year.