The Presidential Office convened a press conference on the afternoon of October 2 to announce that Vice President Chen Chien-jen will lead a delegation from October 11 through 16 to the Vatican to attend the canonization ceremony for Pope Paul VI.
At the press conference, Deputy Foreign Minister Kelly Wu-Chiao Hsieh (謝武樵) explained the trip itinerary, noting that the Holy See will conduct the canonization ceremony for Pope Paul VI and six other blesseds on October 14. In light of the 76-year history of formal diplomatic ties between the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the Vatican, and the importance of our bilateral cooperation and exchanges, President Tsai Ing-wen has designated Vice President Chen as her special envoy for this event. The vice president, a devout Catholic, will lead a delegation to attend the ceremony and convey sincere best wishes to the pope on behalf of the government, people, and fellow Catholics of Taiwan.
Deputy Minister Hsieh said that Vice President Chen is attending the canonization ceremony as a special envoy to deepen the friendly diplomatic ties between Taiwan and the Vatican. The trip will last a total of four days and three nights, with the delegation departing on the evening of October 11 and returning to Taiwan in the early morning hours of October 16.
Deputy Minister Hsieh then said that the canonization ceremony is a religious event, and in keeping with Vatican convention and protocol, in addition to Vice President Chen, the special envoy's delegation will also include the vice president’s wife and Mr. Hsieh.
Commenting on Vice President Chen's itinerary at the Vatican, Deputy Minister Hsieh stated that the most important activity would be attending the canonization ceremony for Pope Paul VI on October 14. The Vatican, in accordance with established conventions, has arranged audiences with the pope for all delegation heads and their spouses before or after the canonization ceremony. Vice President and Mrs. Chen will convey sincere best wishes to the pope on behalf of our government and people, and fellow Catholics here.
Deputy Minister Hsieh then explained other items on Vice President and Mrs. Chen's itinerary. They will be visiting the Papal Palace of Castel Gandolfo to pay tribute to Pope Paul VI, who died of a heart attack at the palace in August 1978. They will also visit the Montecassino Abbey, built by Saint Benedict, founder of the Order of Saint Benedict and described by Pope Paul VI as a "messenger of peace." They are also scheduled to attend a mass to pray for the people of Taiwan and world peace, and will represent President Tsai to host a banquet for Taiwanese clergy members and expatriates living and working at the Vatican and in Italy.
Deputy Minister Hsieh mentioned that, in addition to Pope Paul VI, also scheduled for canonization are Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, Father Francesco Spinelli of Italy, Father Vincenzo Romano of Italy, Maria Caterina Kasper (who founded The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ), Nazaria Ignacia March Mesa (who founded The Missionaries of the Crusade), and Nunzio Sulprizio (an Italian lay person known for his devout faith). Although these blesseds all lived in different historical periods, in the face of adversity, they fearlessly held fast to their Christian faith, showing lifelong love and compassion for their fellow human beings. This is why the Holy See has chosen to canonize them.
Deputy Minister Hsieh emphasized that having Vice President Chen lead a delegation to attend this canonization ceremony will show the Vatican our country's sincere respect for the seven blesseds being canonized, and will further enhance the close interaction and friendly diplomatic relations between the ROC and the Vatican.
After Deputy Minister Hsieh concluded his remarks, Presidential Office Spokesperson Huang Chung-yen (黃重諺) briefed reporters on the special features and significance of the gift that has been prepared for the pope—a ceramic saucer from the Tai-Hwa Pottery kiln depicting an orchid. He explained that the ceramic saucer features watercolor-and-ink artwork executed by Chen Shi-Hou (陳士侯), a leading contemporary Taiwanese painter. The orchid depicted is the Phalaenopsis amabilis, a species native to Taiwan which is known as the "Taiwan Grandma" in Taiwanese. This orchid symbolizes the spirit of Taiwan, and the name of the orchid reminds viewers that this spirit is just like a "Taiwan Grandma"—pure, steadfast, and undaunted by adversities and challenges.