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March 3, 2009March 3, 2009  3 comments  Pope Benedict XVI Visit to the Holy Land

The Israel Ministry of Tourism officially announced the upcoming itinerary for Pope Benedict's trip to the Holy Land. The Papal delegation with is to include 40 representatives from the Vatican and approximately 70 representatives of th foreign media, will arrive on May 11th. The Pope will meet with the Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barakat, local leaders, President Shimon Peres as well as the Council of Religious Community Leaders in Israel (the Chief Rabbis, the President of the Moslem Religious Court of Appeals, Christian religious leaders and the heads of the Druze Community). The Pope will also meet with leaders of the Palestinian Authority Mohammed Abbas during his visit to Bethlehem on May 13, 2009. The official itinerary is posted below: •


May 11, 2009 - Pope to arrive in Israel; official ceremony with President Shimon Peres and visit to Yad Vashem Martyrs' and Heroes' Memorial of the Holocaust. Pope Bernedct XVI will also meet with the Council of Religious Commuity Leaders in Israel. In the evening there will be an Interfaith Dialogue meeting at Notre Dame Center.•


May 12th, 2009 - Visit to the Temple Mount and meeting with the Grand Mufti. He will also visit the Western Wall, Mt. Zion and the Cenacle (the Site of the Last Supper), Heichal Shlomo Synagogue (the Great Synagague) as well as a visit to Gethsemane Church. A mass will be held at the Kidron Valley. •


May 13th - Visit to Bethlehem and meeting with Palestinian Authority Leader Mohammed Abbas. A mass at Mangar Square, outside the Church of the Nativity, will be held. •



ay 14th - Visit to Nazareth and meeting with local leaders. A Holy Mass in Nazareth at the Mount of Precipace overlooking the Jezreel Valley will be held. A prayer at the Church of the Annunciation is also planned as well as a meeting with local religious leaders in the Galilee. •


May 15th - Meetings with local religious leaders at local Churches in Jerusalem. A farewell ceremony at Ben Gurion International Airport will be held. Pope Benedict XVI will return to Rome on a special EL AL flight at the conclusion of the ceremony. If you wish to plan a tour following in the footsteps of this memorable Papal visit, please let us know. We have arranged special priced tours for groups of 15 people or more.

May 11, 2009May 11, 2009  0 comments  Pope Benedict XVI


The second papal visit to the Holy Land in nine years has been picked up by leaders of the Jewish State as a clarion call to beckon Christians from all nations and denominations to visit the Holy Land.

"The fact that he's actually coming here to the Holy Land conveys a strong message to Christians  around the world that they should come here," Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov said at a media briefing. "The government of Israel joins this message in calling Christians, come to the Holy Land, come as pilgrms, we ae ready to receive you and welcome you."

Misezhnikov spoke of Christian sites as well as other packages the State of Israel can offer - from spa treatments to holy sites - that can provide a "spiritual, extraordinary experience in a country with extraordinary landscapes and a progressive infrastructure."

Indeed, old infrastructure is getting a facelift while new is being added.

Some of the ancient sites renovated include the room in the Old City believed to be the site of Jesus' last supper. The site on Mount Zion will be host to a personal and private visit by Pope Benedict XVI.

Also in Jerusalem, the Kidron Valley, once a haven for drug dealers and users, has been cleaned up and will host Jerusalem's first papal mass. The valley separates the Mount of Olives from Jerusalem's Old City. Nestled between the Eastern Gate and the Garden of Gethsamane, the valley is now home to newly planted olive trees and refurbished tombs of  including the Pillar of Absalom, the Tomb of Bene Hezir and the Tomb of Zechariah. The mass will seat up to 6,000 worshippers in the historic location.

Besides sprucing up historic and ancient sites, Israel has invested in new structures as well. "As a government we have drawn numerous lessons from previous visits (by officials)," Misezhnikov said. "All of the infrastructure is going to remain and will of course this infrastructure is designated for future."

In Jesus' home town of Nazareth, for example, a 7,000-stone seat amphitheater has been built on site for future use.

"This is one of the important things that will remain and will be an economic lever," said Nazareth Mayor Ramiz Jaraisy. "We know this will be seen from around the world. This is first-class exposure and will encourage tourism in the future. We are expecting a wave of tourism following this. We hope for a specific call from the Pope for people to come and make prilrimage to the Holy Land."

By Nicole Jansezian

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