POPE BENEDICT XVI VISITS THE WESTERN WALL

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.

Israel's Minister of Tourism, Mr. Stas Misezhnikov, welcomed the Pope “to the Holy City of Jerusalem, the spiritual center of all nations on earth, and the eternal Capital of Israel. Hundreds of millions of the faithful around the world uplift their eyes to this very spot. Today especially, they are closely watching your pilgrimage in the Holy Land, the place where history came into being, where our forefathers and our prophets once lived and breathed.”

The Tourism Minister noted that the Pope's visit has “historical significance for Jews and Christians everywhere. I believe that the tidings of peace you bring will permeate the hearts of hundred of millions of Catholics all over the world, and I hope they will follow your example and visit the Holy Land as well.”

“Your call to all the faithful to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem carries great significance for us. It will help promote the very peace to which you have referred in your speeches here in Israel.”

The Pontiff, like his predecessor John Paul II on his pilgrimage to Israel in 2000, recited Psalm 122 (in Latin), a prayer traditionally said by pilgrims who used to come to Jerusalem three times a year. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels."

As is the custom at the Western Wall, the Pope placed a note bearing a prayer for peace in the cracks between the stones. Indeed, the theme of peace has shaped his entire pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The text, as released by the Vatican: “God of all the ages, on my visit to Jerusalem, the “City of Peace”, spiritual home to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike, I bring before you the joys, the hopes and the aspirations, the trials, the suffering and the pain of all your people throughout the world. God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, hear the cry of the afflicted, the fearful, the bereft; send your peace upon this Holy Land, upon the Middle East, upon the entire human family; stir the hearts of all who call upon your name to walk humbly in the path of justice and compassion. “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him.” (Lamentations 3:25)