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President Mugabe and First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe today returned from Sunday’s historic double canonisation of saints John XXIII and John Paul II by Pope Francis at Vatican City.

However, his trip back home was not without incident as the chartered Air Zimbabwe flight he was on had to over-fly the capital city and stop briefly in Bulawayo because visibility was extremely low at Harare International Airport.

Even at Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport, the aircraft had to make a second approach to the runway as a fog rolled in and greatly diminished visibility.

President Mugabe, Amai Mugabe, their son Chatunga, and Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa and other senior Government officials then landed in Bulawayo and stopped over for slightly less than an hour as they waited for the fog at Harare International Airport to clear.

The charter flight finally landed in Harare around 11am, where President Mugabe was received by Vice President Joice Mujuru, senior Government officials and service chiefs led by Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander, General Constantine Chiwenga.

The weather conditions, according to officials at Harare International Airport, saw at least one other flight – this one from South Africa – turning back mid-air because the crew did not want to risk landing in the fog.

On Sunday, President Mugabe and 23 other leaders joined hundreds of thousands of people in St Peter’s Square at Vatican City to witness the first time ever two popes were canonised by the Roman Catholic Church on the same day.

An estimated 800 000 people packed St Peter’s square and the avenues leading into the seat of the Holy See for the canonisation mass.

President Mugabe had a brief word with Pope Francis in front of St Peter’s Basilica before the ceremony that was beamed live across the world to some two billion people.

Prior to canonisation, the Catholic Church – the world’s largest Christian denomination – verifies two miracles attributable to a person and takes into regard life-long commitment to cardinal and Biblical virtues before one can be canonised, and this is normally done at least five years after death.

St John Paul II was “fast-tracked” to sainthood by his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, when he was beatified in 2011 and then canonised a week after Easter 204. He is credited with healing two women who had Parkinson’s disease and a brain aneurysm, respectively.

With regards to St John XXIII, Pope Francis waived the miracles requirement and canonised him in recognition of his reforms of the church through the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council.

Pope Francis said saints gave direction and brought growth to the Catholic Church.

On Sunday, President Mugabe also held a closed-door meeting with representatives of the Community of Sant’Egidio, which played a key role in brokering the 1992 Rome Accord that led to the end of the Mozambique civil war between the Frelimo government and Renamo rebels.

Source : The Herald