Following a ceremony in which he dedicated Austria and all of its people to the protection of Mary, Pope Benedict XVI traveled to the nearby Judenplatz, which contains a commemorative monument to the Shoah (Holocaust).
The Holy Father was received there by the Chief Rabbi and the president of the Jewish community in Vienna. He paused to pray in silence and speak with members of the Jewish community that had gathered to greet him.
Onboard the plane to Vienna, the Pope told the AP that the visit to the Holocaust shrine would be a “moment to express our sadness, our repentance and our friendship towards the Jews.”
The Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn also reminded those assembled, that Jesus and the apostles were Jewish and that "we must never forget our roots."
"It is part of this city's tragedy that it is indeed here that these roots were forgotten, even denied, to the point of wanting to destroy a people to whom God gave his first love," he said.
The Judenplatz contains a commemorative monument to the Shoah by the artist Rachel Whiteread, an archaeological excavation revealing a medieval synagogue and a museum on the Jewish presence in the Middle Ages. Engraved in the paving stones around the monument are the names of the places in which more than 65,000 Austrian Jews lost their lives under Nazis rule.