26-March-2009 -- Catholic World News Brief |

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Full Schedule for Pope's Holy Land Visit Released

Vatican, Mar. 26, 2009 (CWNews.com) - The Vatican has published the complete schedule for Pope Benedict XVI during his trip to theHoly Land in May. The Holy Father will visit Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian territories during his voyage, which will take place May 8-15.

The first stop on the papal itinerary is Amman, Jordan. Arriving there on May 8, he will make a courtesy call at the royal palace that afternoon.

The next day, Saturday, he will travel to Mount Nebo and its memorial to Moses, then to the site of Madaba University, administered by the Latin-rite Catholic patriarchate of Jerusalem. Later in the day he will meet with Muslim leaders at Amman's largest house of worship, the Mosque of al-Hussein bin Talal. At the close of the day he will lead a Vespers service at the Melkite Catholic cathedral of St. George.

Sunday morning, May 10, the Pope will celebrate Mass at a soccer stadium in Amman. In the afternoon he will visit the site of Christ's Baptism on the Jordan River.

On Monday, May 11, the Pontiff will fly to Tel Aviv. Traveling by car to Jersualem, he will pay a courtesy call on Israel's President Shimon Peres-- who is due to escort him during his stay in that country-- and later visit the Yad Vashem memorial to Holocaust victims.

Tuesday, May 12, the Pope will visit the religious shrines in the Old City of Jerusalem. He will meet with the Grand Mufti at the Dome of the Rock, then pray at the Western Wall and meet with Israel's chief rabbis. At noon he will join with the Catholic bishops of the region to pray the Regina Caeli at the Cenacle. In the afternoon he will celebrate Mass in the Valley of Josaphat.

On May 13 the Pope will go to Bethlehem, where he will celebrate Mass in Manger Square. In the afternoon, following a visit to the Nativity grotto in the Bethlehem basilica, he will visit the Aida Refugee Camp, speaking there to Palestinian refugees. That evening he will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at his residence in Bethlehem.

On Thursday, May 14, Pope Benedict will travel into Galilee, and celebrate Mass in Nazareth. He is scheduled to meet with the Israeli prime minister there in the afternoon, then address religious leaders in the Annunciation basilica.

On Friday, May 15, his last day in the Holy Land, the Pontiff will be back in Jerusalem, making visits to the Greek Orthodox patriarchate, the Armenian patriarchal church of St. James, and the Holy Sepulchre basilica. That afternoon he will return to Ben Gurion airport outside Tel Aviv, for a brief departure ceremony and his return flight to Rome. He is due back at the Vatican by early Friday evening.

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