August 13, 2014 13:24
Banners or posters of Pope Francis are rarely seen in Vatican City, especially within St. Peter's Square, except in souvenir shops and on one billboard with an uplifting message.
All of this reflects the pope's famously frugal disposition and dislike of ostentation.
But his popularity can be immediately seen outside the borders of the Catholic state, with souvenir shops in central Rome displaying papal merchandise from T-shirts to framed pictures.
Francis has also given status-conscious Korea some headaches by insisting on using a compact car and prompting a complicated security operation that takes care of his tendency to walk about among his flock.
In 1984, the Korean residents of Rome gathered at the airport to see off Pope John Paul II as he left for Korea, but this time the Vatican would not hear of it.
Current Vatican policy is to minimize pomp and circumstance as much as possible and portray the pontiff’s visit to Korea a purely pastoral.
Hong Bae-kwan, a councilor at the Korean Embassy to the Holy See, said, "We decided not to hold even a small ceremony of children delivering a bouquet of flowers to the pope because of the pope's wish to stay humble and modest."
Pope Francis will be traveling to Korea on a chartered Alitalia flight. Previous popes have had their transport modified for long-haul trips, but Francis will make do with the seats as they come.
Despite reports here that Francis will use a Kia Soul compact car to get around during his visit, no details have been revealed and the government seems minded to thwart his attempts at modesty.
Instead, it has been announced that he will use a helicopter provided by Cheong Wa Dae when he goes outside of Seoul, and an open car from Seoul City Hall to the Gwanghwamun Plaza for the mass beatifying 124 Korean martyrs on Aug. 16.
The organizing committee has declined to comment citing security concerns.
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