Pope Francis arrives to celebrate Mass at the Marian shrine, in Sumuleu Ciuc, Romania, Saturday, June 1, 2019. Francis began a three-day pilgrimage to Romania on Friday that in many ways is completing the 1999 trip by St. John Paul II that marked the first-ever papal visit to a majority Orthodox country. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Rains force pope to change Romania travel plans

June 01, 2019 - 1:44 am

MIERCUREA CIUC, Romania (AP) — Pope Francis has arrived in Transylvania to visit Romania's most famous shrine on a day of rain-soaked travel to meet with the country's far-flung Catholic communities.

Storms forced Francis to change his transport plans Saturday and added in a three-hour car ride through the twisting Carpazi mountains that he had planned to traverse via helicopter. The steady rains doused the faithful gathered for Mass at the Sumuleu Ciuc shrine, dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

Francis celebrates Mass and then drives three hours back to the airport for a flight to another corner of Romania, Iasi in the northeast. There he'll meet with young Romanians.

Francis is travelling across Romania to make up for the fact that St. John Paul II was only allowed to visit the capital, Bucharest, in 1999.