POPE FRANCIS has released a video message revealing his excitement at returning to Ireland.
The Pontiff was speaking ahead of a two-day visit to the country on August 25-26 as part of the World Meeting of Families.
Pope Francis previously spent three weeks with the Jesuit community in Dublin in 1980 while learning English.
“I send a warm word of greeting to all Irish people,” said the Pope, before revealing his excitement at the visit.
The Pontiff said he hoped the visit would encourage ‘reconciliation among all Christ’s followers’.
“Although the specific reason for my visit to Ireland is the World Meeting of Families, I would like to include all the members of the Irish family,” he said.
“In a particular way I pray that it may further the growth of unity and reconciliation among all Christ’s followers as a sign of that lasting peace which is God’s dream for our whole human family.
“I know that many people are working hard to prepare for my visit and I thank all of them from my heart.
“I ask everyone to pray that this great festival will be a moment of joy and serenity, a caress of Jesus’ tender love for all families and indeed for all God’s children.
“I assure you of my closeness in prayer and I would ask you to pray for me.
“From my heart, I send you my blessing.”
The Pope will give a speech at Croke Park on Saturday evening before saying Mass at Phoenix Park on Sunday afternoon.
He will also visit the Knock Shrine on Sunday morning.