Visit will be first to poorest ethnic group in Europe.

The Vatican said that Pope Francis next week will visit the impoverished Roma community in the Lunik IX housing development of Slovakia’s second largest city of Kosice, on his pilgrimage to the country that calls itself “the heart of Europe.”

Francis will be the first pontiff to meet the most socially excluded minority group in Europe. A fitting place to go for the “pope of the peripheries,” Lunik XI is the biggest of about 600 shabby, segregated settlements where the poorest 20% of the country’s 400,000 Roma live. Most lack basics such as running water or sewage systems, gas or electricity, the Associated Press reports.

“It’s a huge honor for us,” said Lunik IX mayor Marcel Sana, who has been a local resident since he was 2. “Even if he says just a few words, his presence will be a big boost for all those living here, the socially disadvantaged and poor people who need such support.”

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