03/26/2009, 00.00
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Papal trip to the Holy Land rich in meaning

The Vatican makes public the official programme of Benedict XVI’s visit to the Holy Land, scheduled for 8-15 May. It will be the third trip by a Pope in the modern era to the land where Jesus lived. In addition to the holy sites, the Holy Father will visit Yad Vashem, Amman’s main mosque, the Wailing Wall and the Dome of the Rock.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Benedict XVI’s often-expressed desire to visit the Holy Land is now becoming reality. The Vatican released today the programme of the Holy Father’s trip set for 8-15 May, in Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories. In each country he will meet the head of state, Jordanian King Abdullah, Israeli President Peres and Palestinian President Abbas. This is the third papal visit in modern times to the land where Jesus lived. Pope Paul VI came in 1964 and John Paul II, in 2000.

In Jordan on 9 May Benedict XVI will visit the Memorial of Moses on Mount Nebo, the Mosque of al-Hussein bin Talal in Amman, and bless the cornerstone of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem's Madaba University. On the following day he will travel to Bethany Beyond the Jordan, site of the Lord's Baptism.

The Holy Father will arrive in Israel on Monday 11 May. After the welcome ceremony he will visit the Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem and hold a meeting with organisations devoted to inter-faith dialogue.

On Tuesday 12 May, he will visit the Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount in Jerusalem and meet the Grand Mufti. He will then visit the Western Wall and meet Israel’s two Chief Rabbis. In the afternoon he will celebrate Mass in the Valley of Josaphat.

On Wednesday the Holy Father will travel to the Palestinian Territories. In Bethlehem he will celebrate Mass in Manger Square and in the afternoon visit the Grotto of the Nativity. After that he will visit the Caritas Baby Hospital and the Aida Refugee Camp, before returning to Jerusalem.

The visit to Nazareth will take place on Thursday, 14 May. Here he will celebrate Mass on the Mount of Precipice and then preside at Vespers with bishops, priests, religious, ecclesial movements and pastoral workers from the Galilee.

On Friday 15 May, the Pontiff will attend an ecumenical meeting at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and visit the Holy Sepulchre and the Armenian patriarchal church of St. James in Jerusalem, last leg of his trip before his farewell address and departure for Rome.

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