After a three-day visit to Jordan, Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Israel on Monday. Accompanied by an entourage of 40 Vatican staff members and 70 reporters, he landed at Ben-Gurion International Airport at 11:00 local time in a special Royal Jordanian plane. President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli dignitaries welcomed the Pope at the airport.
One of the highlights at today’s reception, held at the Residence of the President, Mr. Shimon Peres, in honor of Pope Benedict XVI, was the ceremonial – and symbolic – Peace Tree planting.
The Pope planted a centuries-old olive tree in the Peace Garden of the Presidential residence, a symbolic gesture in keeping with the Pope’s peace pilgrimage to the Holy Land and his expressed wish to foster peace and brotherhood between peoples and religions. The planting begins a new tradition for the President’s Residence and garden.
Earlier Tuesday, Pope Benedict XVI continued his historic pilgrimage through the Holy Land, visiting the Western Wall in Jerusalem. This is the last remnant of the Roman-era Temple, representing Judaism’s holiest shrine. It is also the most-visited tourist site in Israel. The Pope spent several minutes in silent prayer before the ancient stones of the Wall.
On the second day of his visit to Israel (Tuesday, 12th May), Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Holy Mass in the Garden of Gethsemane in the Kidron Valley. Several thousand faithful, including Catholics from the Holy Land and pilgrims and tourists from around the world, attended this historic event.
Gethsemane, located at the foot of the Mount of Olives beneath the city’s 400- year-old walls, is the place where Jesus and his disciples prayed the night before his crucifixion.
Pope Benedict XVI : "I rejoice to have come to Nazareth. All of us need... to return to Nazareth
14 May 2009
They waited for hours, over 40,000 faithful... from the Holy Land, members of the Christian community in the Galilee, Jerusalem and pilgrims and tourists from around the world.
As throughout his visit, they chanted "Benedetto! Benvenuto!" as they waited for the Pope to arrive.
“With words of encouragement, I conclude my pilgrimage to the holy places of our redemption and rebirth in Christ."
15 May 2009
On the final day of his five-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Pope Benedict XVI visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem's Old City, revered as the site of Jesus' crucifixion, burial and resurrection.
See close-ups of Pope Benedict XVI and more than 40,000 faithful gathering at Mount Precipice for Holy Mass