Pope Francis landed in northern Iraq to cap his historic tour to the country with a visit to Christian communities that endured the brutality of a jihadist "caliphate".
The heaviest deployment of security forces yet has been mobilized to protect the 84-year-old pontiff on what is perhaps his riskiest day in Iraq.
Pope Francis held a brief meeting with regional president Nechirvan Barzani and his cousin, prime minister Masrour Barzani.
The pontiff will then travel by helicopter to lead a prayer "for the victims of the war" in the city of Mosul, an ancient crossroads overrun by the Islamic State group in 2014.
The Pope Francis trip to Iraq as a "pilgrim of peace" aims to reassure the country's ancient, but dwindling, Christian community and to expand his dialogue with other religions.
The Christian community of Iraq has shrunk from 1.5 million before the 2003 US-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein to only 400,000 now, about one percent of the 40 million living in the Muslim-majority country.
Pope Francis said he was ready to come to meet the displaced and other victims of war in a show of solidarity.
He will see for himself the devastated Old City of Mosul and the painstaking efforts to rebuild it. He will then travel east to Qaraqosh, one of Iraq's oldest Christian towns whose residents still speak a dialect of the language spoken by Jesus Christ.
Authorities have imposed a nationwide lockdown -- ostensibly to keep cases down but also to help control movements during the Pope's high-profile visit.