Nazareth Mayor Ali Sallam had an audience last weekend with Pope Francis at his private Vatican residence for discussions on Israel's political situation, the importance of Nazareth in Christianity, and a possible second visit to Israel by the head of the Catholic Church.
As the city of Annunciation (where Christian tradition says the Angel Gabriel told Mary she would conceive the son of God), Nazareth holds a special place in Christianity, giving rise to Sallam's invitation from the Vatican just before Yuletide.
Sallam and the Pope discussed the best way to promote Nazareth among Christian tourists, with the mayor promising to name one of the city's streets for the founder of the Franciscan order, Saint Francis - after whom the Pope is named. He also invited the Pope to return to Israel to attend the naming of the street.
The two also discussed the possibility of building the city's first university, establishing more educational institutes in the city, and the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, with the Pope promising to do all in his power to aid peace talks.
As the audience ended, Sallam gifted Pope Francis with the key to Nazareth, an certificate of honorary residency and a t-shirt of the city's soccer team adorned with the number 33, a number signifying Jesus' age when he is believed by Christians to have died.
The Pope for his part gave Sallam a medal as well as a book signed by both himself and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar in Egypt, Ahmed el-Tayeb, as a sign for peace and brotherhood among mankind.
Pope Francis' first visit to Israel took place in 2014, making him the fourth pope to ever visit Israel, and was officially labeled as a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
As part of his trip, Pope Francis visited Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and met with President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.