Pope Francis to visit Holy Land in May
Pontiff will visit Jerusalem, Bethlehem in the West Bank and also Amman in Jordan
Pope Francis waves as he leads the Angelus prayer from the window of the Apostolic palace in Saint Peter’s Square today. Photograph: Reuters
Pope Francis this morning confirmed he will visit the Holy Land in May.
Speaking at his Sunday Angelus in a rain-soaked St. Peter’s Square, the Pope said: “God willing, I will make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land from May 24th to May 26th next”.
The Pope outlined some details of his itinerary, saying he would visit Amman in Jordan, as well as Bethlehem and Jerusalem.
He also indicated one of the key moments of the trip will be an Ecumenical Meeting at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, a meeting due to be attended by Orthodox Christian Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, as well as representatives of other Christian Churches in Jerusalem.
For some time, there had been speculation the Pope would announce this trip during the Christmas-New Year period.
In the end, Francis chose to make the announcement on the day that marks the 50th anniversary of an historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras in Jerusalem on January 5th, 1964.
The Pope said one of the main reasons for making the trip now is to commemorate the visit made by his predecessor.
The Pope’s trip to Israel may not be his only international visit this year since Vatican insiders suggest he is also very keen to visit Asia, with the Philippines, Japan, South Korea and Sri Lanka indicated as possible destinations.