Pope Francis to Visit South Korea in August

Holy Father to make first visit to Asia on occasion of Asian Youth Day.

Pope Francis is to visit South Korea from August 14th to 18th, the Vatican announced today.

In a statement, the Vatican said:

"Welcoming the invitation from the President of the Republic and the Korean bishops, His Holiness Francis will make an Apostolic Trip to the Republic of Korea from 14 to 18 August 2014, on the occasion of the Sixth Asian Youth Day, to be held in the diocese of Daejon."

The Holy Father first indicated he would travel to Asia last year, when he told reporters on the papal plane from Rio that Benedict XVI did not have time to visit the region. "I must go to Asia," he said. "It is important." As in much of Africa, Asia is seen as a region of growth for the Church.

Earlier this year, the Vatican confirmed that a visit to South Korea was being studied. The probability increased when the Vatican announced last month that Francis had declared 124 Koreans killed for the faith in past centuries be officially recognised as martyrs.

Other visits to Asia - namely to the Philippines and Sri Lanka - have also been discussed, but the Vatican has said these won't take place this year.

By visiting South Korea in mid-August, the Pope will miss celebrating Mass on the Feast of the Assumption in Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer residence, a tradition dating back to John XXIII.