Meet the Arabic translator who is always by the Pope’s side

Monsignor Yoannis Lahzi Gaid speaks four languages and is the pontiff’s second personal secretary

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When Pope Francis appears at public engagements there is often one man who is never far from his side.

Monsignor Yoannis Lahzi Gaid, a Coptic Catholic priest, is the pontiff’s second personal secretary and is always on hand to help with translations.

Known for his welcoming smile and calming demeanour, Monsignor Lahzi Gaid speaks fluent Arabic, Italian, French and English.

He arrived in the UAE along with the Holy Father on Sunday, and will accompany Pope Francis throughout his historic visit to the Emirates.

He is often pictured with the world's leaders and was at Abu Dhabi airport on Sunday night and the Presidential Palace on Monday.

In an interview with Egyptian journalist Magdi Allam in 2008, Monsignor Lahzi Gaid said: “I have always tried to be the friend who respects the different religion of the other without being afraid of speaking the truth."

Monsignor Lahzi Gaid, 43, was born in Cairo and grew up with seven siblings.

He was ordained at the Coptic Catholic Patriarchate of Alexandria, the coastal city west of Cairo, and later sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate studying Eastern Christianity.

In 2011, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him a chaplain, with the title Monsignor – an honorific form of address used by some members of the clergy.

In April, 2014, Pope Francis asked that Monsignor Lahzi Gaid become his second personal secretary, a position which involves answering correspondence in the pontiff's name.

When approached on Monday by The National, Monsignor Lahzi Gaid said he regularly helped the Pope with translations from Arabic to Italian.