Pope Francis has announced his first trip as pontiff to the Holy Land.
Pope Francis will visit Jerusalem, Bethlehem in the West Bank, and the Jordanian capital, Amman from May 24 to 26.
The pontiff made the announcement during his weekly Sunday blessing in Vatican City.
The visit is so far Pope Francis’ only foreign trip planned for 2014. He will celebrate Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, with the ecumenical patriarch, Bartholomew.
“In the climate of joy typical of this Christmas period, I would like to announce that from 24 to 26 May, God willing, I will carry out a pilgrimage to the Holy Land,” Pope Francis told crowds gathered in St Peter’s Square.
The date of his announcement – Sunday, January 5th – marks the 50th anniversary of the historic meeting in Jerusalem between the Pope and the leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians.
January 5th is significant because it “commemorates the historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople” in 1964, he said.
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