Ahead of his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Pope Benedict XVI has offered a special message to residents of Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories. See full itinerary 8th-15th May 2009.

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Papal Message

Weekly general audience, in St.Peter’s Square, 6th May 2009.

“My dear friends, this Friday I leave Rome for my Apostolic Visit to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

I wish this morning to take the opportunity through this radio and television broadcast to greet all the peoples of those lands. I am eagerly looking forward to being with you and to sharing with you your aspirations and hopes as well as your pains and struggles.

I will be coming among you as a pilgrim of peace.

My primary intention is to visit the places made holy by the life of Jesus, and, to pray at them for the gift of peace and unity for your families, and all those for whom the Holy Land and the Middle East is home.

Among the many religious and civic gatherings which will take place over the course of the week, will be meetings with representatives from the Muslim and Jewish communities with whom great strides have been made in dialogue and cultural exchange.

In a special way I warmly greet the Catholics of the region and ask you to join me in praying that the visit will bear much fruit for the spiritual and civic life of all who dwell in the Holy Land.

May we all praise God for His goodness. May we all be people of hope. May we all be steadfast in our desire and efforts for peace”.

See below for itinerary

An infant is held up to Pope Benedict XVI during his weekly general audience, in St.Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Wednesday, May 6, 2009. Benedict XVI has said he will be making a pilgrimage to the Middle East this week as a "pilgrim of peace.'' The pontiff leaves Friday for a week-long trip to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories. At center is the pontiff's personal aide Rev. Georg Gaenswein. (AP Photo)

Papal Itinerary in Holy Land 8-15 May 2009

Benedict XVI will visit the Wailing Wall, Jerusalems Square of Mosques, the Grotto of the Nativity and Nazareth during his trip to the Holy Land this spring.

The trip will basically repeat the key points of John Paul IIs historic visit to the Holy Land in March 2000, although it will last one day longer, and will allow for more ecumenical and interreligious meetings.

Jordan

Benedict XVI will arrive Friday, May 8, at Amman, Jordan. His first stop will be at the citys Regina Pacis Center, and then he will make a courtesy visit to the Jordanian monarchs at the al-Husseinye royal palace.

On Saturday, May 9, the Pope will visit the Moses Memorial on Mount Nebo, the place where tradition states that Moses saw the Promised Land from a distance.

That same day he will bless the cornerstone of the Patriarchate of Jerusalems Madaba University, visit the Hashemite Museum and the Mosque of al-Hussein bin Talal in Amman, and then meet with Muslim religious leaders, the diplomatic corps and rectors of Jordanian universities.

He will also preside at the celebration of vespers with priests, religious, seminarians and ecclesial movements in the Greek-Melkite cathedral of St. George in Amman.

Benedict XVI will preside at a multitudinous Mass on Sunday, May 10, at the International Stadium in Amman.

That afternoon the Pope will visit Bethany Beyond the Jordan, site of the Lords Baptism, where he will bless the cornerstones of the Latin and Greek-Melkite churches.

Jerusalem

The Holy Father will depart from Jordan on Monday, May 11, and travel by plane to Tel Aviv, Israel. He will first visit Jerusalem, as opposed to John Paul II who first went to the territories of the Palestinian National Authority.

Benedict XVI will make a courtesy visit to the president of Israel at the presidential palace in Jerusalem. Subsequently he will visit the Yad Vashem Memorial and hold a meeting with organizations for interreligious dialogue.

On Tuesday, May 12, the Pontiff will visit the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and meet the Grand Mufti, a stop John Paul II did not make.

According to tradition, it is the third most holy place of Islam, after Mecca and Medina. It is also a sacred place for Jews, as the heart of the Old Temple of Jerusalem is located there.

He will also visit the Western Wall and meet with the two Chief Rabbis of Israel at the Hechal Shlomo Centre.

At midday he is due to pray the Regina Coeli with ordinaries of the Holy Land in the Cenacle of Jerusalem and to make a brief visit to the co-cathedral of the Latins. That afternoon he will celebrate Mass in the Valley of Josaphat.

Bethlehem

Subsequently, the Pope will go to Bethlehem on Wednesday, May 13, where he will celebrate Mass in Manger Square and visit the Aida Refugee Camp (John Paul II visited the Deheisha camp). He will also visit the Caritas Baby Hospital and the president of the Palestinian National Authority in the presidential palace of Bethlehem, after which the departure ceremony will take place on the square in front of the palace.

Galilee

On Thursday, May 14, Benedict XVI will go to Galilee, specifically to Nazareth, where he will visit the grotto of the Annunciation, and later meet with the Prime Minister of Israel. He will celebrate Mass on the Mount of the Precipice, where tradition states that his countrymen tried to hurl Jesus after he preached in the Synagogue.

As opposed to John Paul II, Benedict XVIs visit to this area will be shorter. He will not visit the Mount of the Beatitudes, or Capernaum or Tabga, where tradition recalls the Multiplication of the Loaves.

Before returning to Rome on Friday, May 15, the Holy Father is scheduled to meet with the Greek-Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem, as well as with the patriarch of the Armenian Church.