MORE THAN 40,000 FAITHFUL GATHER AT MOUNT PRECIPICE FOR HOLY MASS

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.

For many of them, the highlight of Pope Benedict XVI's pilgrimage to Israel was today's (Thursday) Holy Mass celebrated in Nazareth, home to Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The Pope conducted the ceremony at a purpose-built amphitheater on Mount Precipice, where tradition has it an angry mob attempted to throw Jesus off the cliff.

Prior to celebrating the Holy Mass, the Pontiff noted the importance of Nazareth for Christian pilgrims: "I rejoice to have come to Nazareth, the place blessed by the mystery of the Annunciation ... I am confident that this stage of my pilgrimage will draw the whole Church’s attention to this town of Nazareth. All of us need... to return to Nazareth." These words, which were also read in Hebrew by Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Vatican Custodian of the Holy Land, were greeted with warm applause.

The Pope also referred to the spectacular amphitheater, a site that will now serve Nazareth and the North in general as a venue for other large cultural and religious events. "In a special way, I wish to thank all those who have helped to make this celebration possible, particularly those involved in the planning and construction of this new theatre with its splendid panorama of the city."