Pope announces first visit to Holy Land, May 24-26
VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Pope Francis said on Sunday he will make his first trip to the Holy Land, visiting Amman, Bethlehem and Jerusalem in May.
"In the climate of joy typical of this Christmas period, I would like to announce that from May 24 to 26, God willing, I will carry out a pilgrimage to the Holy Land," Pope Francis told crowds gathered in St Peter's Square for the traditional Angelus prayer.
Pope Francis said the date of the announcement - January 5 - was significant because it "commemorates the historic meeting between pope Paul VI and patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople", 50 years ago.
Their meeting in Jerusalem led to the rescinding of the excommunications of 1054 that caused the Great Schism between the churches of the East and West.