Pope Benedict XVI. Official announcement
Photo: Reuters

Pope to visit Holy Land on May 8-15

Benedict XVI tells followers he will visit sites of Jesus' life, pray for 'the precious gift of unity and peace for the Middle East and all of humanity.' Peres: Pope 'an honorable guest'

Pope Benedict XVI says he will visit the Holy Land on May 8-15 in the first papal trip to the area since 2000.


Benedict announced the dates of the long-planned pilgrimage following his traditional noontime blessing on Sunday.


The pope said he would visit the sites of Jesus' life and would pray for "the precious gift of unity and peace for the Middle East and all of humanity."


The itinerary will include stops in Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories. Benedict is expected to visit Jordan's largest mosque in Amman, and make stops in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth.


The late Pope John Paul II went to the Holy Land in a 2000 pilgrimage.


President Shimon Peres welcomed Benedict's decision to accept his invitation and visit Israel.


"I'm very happy because the pope has accepted by initiation to visit the Holy Land. The pope will be an honorable guest and is accepted by all parts of the nation. This is an exciting and important event, from which the wind of peace and hope is blowing," said Peres.


Hagai Einav contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 03.08.09, 14:18
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