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Schedule set for Pope's visit to Holy Land in May

Catholic World News - March 27, 2014

The Vatican has announced the full schedule for a May visit by Pope Francis to the Holy Land.

During his trip, from May 24 to May 26, the Pope will visit Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian territories. He will meet with Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople. And he will celebrate Mass in Manger Square in Bethlehem and in the Cenacle, the site of the Last Supper, in Jerusalem.

A strike among Israeli foreign-ministry workers has complicated planning for the papal trip, but Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, said that preparations were “continuing as planned,” and the Vatican hoped to resume detailed planning, in cooperation with Israeli officials, in the near future.

Pope Francis will leave Rome on Saturday morning, May 24, and make his first stop at Amman, Jordan, arriving in the early afternoon. After a courtesy visit at the royal palace and a meeting with government officials, he will celebrate Mass at a stadium in Amman. Later he will visit the site on the Jordan River revered as the place where Jesus was baptized.

On Sunday the Pope will travel by helicopter to Jerusalem. There he will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, then celebrate Mass in Manger Square, outside the basilica of the Nativity. After a private visit to the Nativity grotto, he will meet with children at a nearby refugee camp.

On Sunday evening the Pope will make the quick helicopter trip to Jerusalem. There he will meet with the Ecumenical Patriarch, to sign a joint declaration. Their meeting will mark the 50th anniversary of the historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and the Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras, which also took place in Jerusalem.

On Monday morning, May 26, Pope Francis will meet with the Grandi Mufti of Jerusalem, then visit the Western Wall of the Temple and the Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem. After successive meetings with Israel’s President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he will meet with Catholic priests, and religious, and then concelebrate Mass in the Cenacle with the Catholic bishops of the Holy Land.

Following that Mass, the Pope will be taken by helicopter to Tel Aviv, to board his return flight from Rome, arriving there late Monday night.

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