.- Having just completed the papal trip to Africa, preparations are under way for Pope Benedict XVI’s first trip to the Holy Land in a little more than a month. On Thursday morning the Vatican released details of the Pope’s May 8-15 trip.
Pope Benedict will leave from Rome at 9:30 a.m. on May 8 and land at the Queen Alia airport in Amman, Jordan at 2:30 p.m. The first day of the trip will consist of a 3:30 p.m. visit to the city's Queen of Peace Center, followed by a courtesy visit to the Jordanian monarchs at the al-Husseinye royal palace.
The second day of the Jordanian leg of the trip will involve a visit to the Memorial of Moses on Mount Nebo, and the blessing of the cornerstone for the Patriarchate of Jerusalem's Madaba University in the morning.
The Pope will then visit a Jordanian museum and the Mosque of al-Hussein bin Talal in Amman. This will be followed by a meeting with Muslim religious leaders, the diplomatic corps and rectors of Jordanian universities. On Saturday evening, the Holy Father will preside at the celebration of Vespers with priests, religious, seminarians and ecclesial movements in the Greek-Melkite cathedral of St. George in Amman.
The final day of Benedict XVI’s visit to Jordan will be Sunday, May 10. In the morning, the Holy Father will celebrate Mass and pray the Regina Coeli at the international stadium in Amman. That afternoon he is scheduled to visit Bethany Beyond the Jordan, site of the Lord's Baptism, where he will bless the cornerstones of the Latin and Greek-Melkite churches.
After celebrating Mass at the apostolic nunciature in Amman, the Pope will depart for Tel Aviv, arriving just before 11:00 a.m. at the Ben Gurion airport. A welcome ceremony will be held at the airport.
Monday afternoon will see a courtesy visit to the president of Israel at the presidential palace in Jerusalem, a stop at the Yad Vashem Memorial outside of the Holocaust museum and a meeting with organizations for inter-religious dialogue.
On Tuesday, May 12, he will visit the Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount in Jerusalem and meet the Grand Mufti. He will also visit the Western Wall and meet with the two Chief Rabbis of Israel at the Hechal Shlomo Centre. At midday he is scheduled to pray the Regina Coeli with the bishops of the Holy Land in the Cenacle of Jerusalem and to make a brief visit to the co-cathedral of the Latins. That afternoon he will celebrate Mass in the Valley of Josaphat.
The third day of the Pope’s trip will see him deliver an address on the square in front of the presidential palace in Bethlehem at 9:00 a.m. and then celebrate Mass in Manger Square at 10 a.m. At 12.30 p.m. he will lunch with the bishops of the Holy Land, the Franciscan community and the papal entourage at the Casa Nova monastery in Bethlehem.
That afternoon, following a private visit at 3.30 p.m. to the Grotto of the Nativity, Benedict XVI will travel to the Caritas Baby Hospital and, shortly thereafter, to the Aida Refugee Camp, where he will deliver an address. At 6 p.m. he will make a courtesy visit to the president of the Palestine National Authority in the presidential palace of Bethlehem, after which a departure ceremony will be held in the square in front of the palace.
At 10 a.m. on Thursday the Pope will celebrate Mass on the Mount of Precipice in Nazareth. At 3:50 p.m. he will meet the Israeli prime minister in the city's Franciscan convent, and at 4:30 p.m. greet religious leaders of Galilee in the auditorium of the Basilica of the Annunciation, where he will pronounce an address. Later he will travel to the Grotto of the Annunciation where at 5:30 p.m. he will preside at Vespers with bishops, priests, religious, ecclesial movements and pastoral workers.
On Friday, the Pope will say an early private Mass in the chapel of the apostolic delegation to Jerusalem, then attend an ecumenical meeting at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. After this he will visit the Holy Sepulchre and the Armenian patriarchal church of St. James in Jerusalem.
Following the departure ceremony at Ben Gurion international airport in Tel Aviv, the papal plane is due to take off at 2 p.m. bound for Rome where it is expected to land at Ciampino airport at 4:50 p.m. Roman time.