Pope Francis

Pope’s Holy Land visit not your ordinary pilgrimage

  • May 21, 2014

The “principle purpose” of the May 24-26 visit of Pope Francis to the Holy Land is not a conventional pilgrimage, as conducted by John Paul II and Benedict XVI. It is to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the meeting between Pope Paul VI and the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I.

The commemoration will be observed — indeed celebrated — by Francis meeting with Bartholomew, the successor of Athenagoras as ecumenical patriarch. This is a very different type of pilgrimage. Although the Pope will go to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, there will be no side trips to Nazareth, Capernaum, the Mount of the Beatitudes or the Sea of Galilee, all very important destinations for pilgrims.

Instead the Pope will meet with the ecumenical patriarch in Jerusalem and they will sign a joint statement. They will then meet at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, enter together and pray together. The following day they will meet and pray at the Mount of Olives, the place of the Garden of Gethsemane.

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