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JORDAN - اَلمَمْلَكَة اَلأُرْدُنِيَّة اَلهَاشِمِيَّة

Saint John the Baptist is the Patron Saint of Jordan.

Pope Paul VI was welcomed to Jordan by His Majesty King Hussein in 1964, on his first apostolic pilgrimage and the first official papal visit to a Muslim country. King Hussein's son, King Abdullah II, has welcomed to Jordan Saint John Paul II, during his Jubilee Pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2000, Papa Benedict XVI, in 2009, and Pope Francis in May 2014 (50 years on from his father's historic meeting with Paul VI - speeches below).

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please do get in touch with the Totus2us team

- as well as hopefully bringing you joy,
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Totus tuus ego sum et omnia mea tua sunt.
Accipio te in mea omnia. Praebe mihi cor tuum, Maria. - St Louis de Montfort

"I am totally yours and all that I have is yours.
I accept you for my all. O Mary, give me your heart.”

Saint John Paul II took his motto Totus Tuus from this quote.

Saint John Paul II's Prayer at Wadi Al-Kharrar

"Glory to you, O Father, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!
You sent your servants, the prophets,
to proclaim your word of faithful love
and to call your people to repentance.

On the banks of the River Jordan,
you raised up John the Baptist,
a voice that cried out in the desert,
sent through the whole region of the Jordan
to prepare the way of the Lord,
to announce the coming of Christ.

Glory to you, O Christ, Son of God!
You came to the waters of the Jordan
to be baptized by the hand of John.
Upon you the Spirit descended as a dove.
Above you the heavens opened,
and the voice of the Father was heard:
“This is my Son, the Beloved!”
From the river blessed by your presence
you went forth to baptize not only with water
but with fire and the Holy Spirit.

Glory to you, O Holy Spirit, Lord and Giver of life!
By your power the Church is baptized,
going down with Christ into death
and rising with him to new life.
By your authority, we are freed from sin
to become the children of God,
the glorious Body of Christ.
By your authority, every fear is vanquished,
and the Gospel of love is preached
in every corner of the world,
for the glory of God,
the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
to Whom be every praise in this Jubilee year
and in all ages to come. Amen."

His Majesty King Abdullah II's remarks to Pope Francis
at the Welcoming Ceremony in Amman, Jordan - 24 May 2014 (The King's speech begins at 58 mins on video above)

"In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate
Blessings and peace be upon Prophet Mohammad, the last prophet and messenger, the truthful Arab Hashemite.
Asalam Alaykum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuhu
Pax Vobis.

Your Holiness, Welcome to Jordan, the land of peace and Muslim-Christian harmony, and home of prophets and saints. Allah says: In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate,  
Yet they are not all alike; some of the People of the Scripture are a community upright, who recite God’s verses in the watches of the night, prostrating themselves. They believe in God and in the Last Day, enjoining decency and forbidding indecency, vying with one another in good works; those are of the righteous. [Al Imran: 113-114]
Saddaka Allahu Al Atheem

Your Holiness, On behalf of all Jordanians, welcome!
It is a special honour that your pilgrimage to the Holy Land begins here, in Jordan: land of faith, land of fellowship.

Here, 50 years ago, my late father His Majesty King Hussein welcomed Pope Paul VI – the first official papal visit to a Muslim country.

Here, 14 years ago, I was privileged to welcome Saint John Paul II; and 5 years ago, Pope Benedict XVI.

Here, today, Muslims and Christians are building a shared future, on the common ground of mutual respect, peace and devotion to God.

Your Holiness, Common ground is where the next steps for all humanity must begin.
In our modern era, we face vast global challenges. Not least is the terrible cost of sectarian and inter-religious conflict. But God has given us an invincible defense. Where ideologues spread ignorance and distrust, our joined voices can bring understanding and good will. Where lives have been shattered by injustice and violence, our united efforts can help bring healing and hope.

Indeed, the world is rich with people of good will, who seek to uphold human dignity and peaceful coexistence. Let me acknowledge, with gratitude, your leadership in this cause. You have committed yourself to dialogue, especially with Islam. Muslims everywhere appreciate your messages of esteem and friendship. In addition to being the successor of Saint Peter, Your Holiness, you have become a conscience for the whole world.

Since becoming Pontiff, you have reminded us, in word and in deed, that ‘Pontiff’ means “bridge builder”. Jordanians, too, are building bridges. Our work includes concrete and tangible actions, over many years.

10 years ago, I was honoured to issue The Amman Message, reaffirming Islam’s call for universal harmony, mercy and justice, and clearly rejecting the false claims of those who spread hatred and sow division.

Jordan is also home to the 2007 initiative, “A Common Word” − reflecting the two great commandments of Islam and Christianity alike: to Love God and Love One’s Neighbour. The people of our two religions − more than half of humanity − are each other’s neighbours, everywhere. “A Common Word” has brought new dialogue between us. Two major Catholic-Muslim forums have taken place, one at the Vatican and one in Jordan. A third such Forum will take place in Rome next November, God willing.

Your Holiness, as the 41st descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), I have sought to uphold the true spirit of Islam, the Islam of peace. My Hashemite duty extends to protecting the Holy Sites of Christians and Muslims in Jordan and in Jerusalem. As Custodian, I am committed to safeguarding the Holy City, as a place of worship for all and, God willing, a safe home for all communities for all generations.

Last year, Jordan convened an historic regional conference on the challenges facing Arab Christians. Let me say, forthrightly, that Arab Christian communities are an integral part of the Middle East.

Here in Jordan, a long Christian heritage exists in harmony with our country’s Islamic heritage and identity. We treasure this inheritance. Your Holiness, we are delighted that you, like your predecessors, will perform a pilgrimage to the Baptism Site of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him), at Bethany beyond the Jordan.

Your Holiness, world peace depends on understanding and co-existence among all people, of every belief. To that end, in 2010, we spearheaded the United Nation's new, annual “World Interfaith Harmony Week”. In recognition, we established an annual prize, bestowed this year on youth and organisations in India, the Philippines, Uganda and Egypt.

Your Holiness, in the days ahead, may we continue to work together to strengthen accord and meet challenges. Your humanity and wisdom can make a special contribution to easing the crisis of Syrian refugees and the burden on neighbouring host countries like Jordan. We must help Syria regain its future, end the bloodshed, and find a peaceful political solution.

Your actions and support also continue to be needed to help Palestinians and Israelis resolve their long conflict. The status-quo of ‘justice denied’ to the Palestinians; fear of the other; fear of change; these are the way to mutual ruin, not mutual respect. Together, we can help leaders on both sides take the courageous steps needed, for peace, justice and co-existence.

Your Holiness, you begin your Holy Land pilgrimage with the warm friendship and sincere respect of all Jordanians. May your work be fruitful and bring peace, for blessed are the peacemakers."

His Majesty King Abdullah II's remarks to Pope Benedict XVI
at the Welcoming Ceremony in Amman, Jordan - 8 May 2009

"In the Name of God, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate,
Your Holiness, it is a great honour to welcome you and your entire delegation to Jordan. With your visit to us, you begin an historic journey to the heartland of faith for Christians and Muslims alike. What is home to us, we make home to you. Here in Jordan, where faith in the One God found ancient roots ... here among the Jordanian people, where faith in God remains central to life itself: we open our doors.

Your Holiness, 9 years ago, in the Jubilee Year of Peace, I stood in this place to greet your predecessor, John Paul II. Together, we affirmed the importance of co-existence and harmony between Muslim and Christian. Since that time, events around the world have shown the urgency of our call. Voices of provocation, ambitious ideologies of division, threaten unspeakable suffering. We must reject such a course for our world's future. Today, together, we must renew our commitment to mutual respect. Here and now, we must create a new and global dialogue, of understanding and goodwill.

There is a strong basis for harmony between us. At one level, it is our simple, shared humanity, which binds us in a world of interdependence. But, for we who are believers in the One God, there is an even deeper basis for understanding. That basis is the commandment expressed in the Holy Scriptures of Muslim, Christian, and Jew: to love God, and love one's neighbour. These principles are foundational, and inseparable. As was said by the Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings upon him): “None of you has faith until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.”

My Friends, Jordan is proud to be the home of the Amman Message which articulates, to all humanity, Islam's call for compassion, mercy and tolerance. The Amman Message affirms the important positive role of faith for human dignity and progress - a need that is not less vital but more so, in our modern age.

Jordanians believe that with our faith, comes responsibility: to live in peace; to lift up the poor and comfort the helpless; to see justice is done; to give hope to the young. This is our country's commitment and the heart of our national community. Our people, Muslim and Christian, are equal citizens under the law; all share in creating our country's future. We place faith at the centre of our daily actions and treasure our religious heritage as a sacred trust. In the noble tradition of my Hashemite family, I have made it my personal duty to preserve our holy sites and welcome the faithful. Soon, at the Holy Place of Baptism, there will be a Catholic pilgrimage centre, which Your Holiness honours by inaugurating this week.

Our welcome to pilgrims is only one way that my country serves global goodwill. We have also committed ourselves to Muslim-Christian understanding. Jordanians initiated the important letter called, "A Common Word Between Us and You." This statement has now been signed by Muslim scholars and leaders from around the world.

Your Holiness, we welcome your commitment to dispel the misconceptions and divisions that have harmed relations between Christians and Muslims. You have warmly received the visits of Muslim scholars and others. In turn, your historic visit this week to the King Hussein Mosque - your meeting with Muslim religious scholars - is welcomed by all Jordanians. It is my hope that together, we can expand the dialogue we have opened - a dialogue that accepts our unique religious identities; a dialogue that is unafraid of the light of truth; a dialogue that, rightly, celebrates our deep, common values and ties.

My Friends, our shared values can make an important contribution in the Holy Land ... where, together, we must help lift the shadow of conflict, through a negotiated settlement, that fulfils the rights of Palestinians to freedom and statehood, and the right of Israelis to security.

Jerusalem is a special concern for all of us. Jordan and the Catholic Church both know the honour - and the responsibility - of serving as guardians and custodians of holy places and religious sites in Jerusalem. We must protect these holy sites and preserve the identity of Jerusalem. And we must safeguard the Holy City as a place of worship for all.

Here and elsewhere, let us help create a true neighbourhood of peace ... where every family can enjoy the blessings of safety ... where no child will be held back by violence and destruction ... where all communities will know the power of reconciliation ... and where the Palestinian people will find an end to occupation and suffering, and share, at last, in the rightful dignity of freedom.

Your Holiness, during your time with us, your words of wisdom and goodness will touch many lives - both here in Jordan, and around the region and the world.

In the days ahead, may we, together, deepen and enrich the work of peace that God commands of us. And in these great hopes, Your Holiness, we welcome you today."

Papa Benedict's Words about his Pilgrimage to the Holy Land
- in Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today I shall talk about the Apostolic Journey that I made from 8 to 15 May to the Holy Land, for which I do not cease to thank the Lord because it turned out to be a great gift for the Successor of Peter and for the whole Church. I would like once again to express a heartfelt "thank you" to H.B. Patriarch Fouad Twal, to the Bishops of the various rites, to the Priests and to the Franciscans of the Custody of the Holy Land. I thank the King and Queen of Jordan, the President of Israel and the President of the National Palestinian Authority, together with their respective Governments, all the Authorities and all those who in various ways collaborated in the preparation and success of my Visit. It was first and foremost a pilgrimage, indeed, a pilgrimage par excellence to the sources of our faith; and at the same time a Pastoral Visit to the Church which lives in the Holy Land: a community of unique importance because it is a living presence in the place where it was born.

The first stage, from 8 to 11 May, was in Jordan, in whose territory are located two of the most important holy places: Mount Nebo, from which Moses contemplated the Promised Land and where he died without entering it; then Bethany "on the other side of the Jordan", where, according to the fourth Gospel, St John began to baptize. The Memorial of Moses on Mount Nebo is a site with a strong symbolic value: it speaks of our condition as pilgrims between an "already" and a "not yet", between a promise so important and beautiful as to hearten us on the way, and fulfilment that surpasses us and also surpasses this world. The Church lives this "eschatological" and "pilgrim disposition" in herself: she is already united with Christ her Bridegroom but for the time being the wedding feast is only anticipated, in expectation of his glorious return at the end of time (cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, nn. 48-50). In Bethany I had the joy of blessing the foundation stones of two churches that will be built on the site where St John baptized the people. This event was a sign of the openness and respect for religious freedom and for the Christian tradition which prevail in the Hashemite Kingdom and deserves deep appreciation. I was able to show this just recognition, united with profound respect for the Muslim community, the Religious Leaders, the Diplomatic Corps and the university Rectors who met at the Al-Hussein Bin Talal Mosque, that King Abdallah II commissioned in memory of his father, the famous King Hussein, who welcomed Pope Paul VI on his historic pilgrimage in 1964. How important it is that Christians and Muslims live side by side peacefully and in mutual respect! Thanks be to God and to the commitment of the government leaders this is happening in Jordan. I prayed that it would be like this also elsewhere, thinking especially of the Christians who instead experience difficult situations in neighbouring Iraq.

A large Christian community lives in Jordan, increased by Palestinian and Iraqi refugees. It is a significant presence appreciated in society, also because of its institutions for education and social assistance, attentive to the human person independently of his or her race or religion. A beautiful example is the "Regina Pacis" Rehabilitation Centre in Amman, which takes in numerous people afflicted by disabilities. In visiting it, I was able to bring a word of hope, but in turn I also received one, as a testimony strengthened by suffering and by human sharing; as a sign of the Church's commitment in the field of culture, I also blessed the foundation stone of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem's University of Madaba. I rejoiced in giving a start to this new scientific and cultural institution so that it may tangibly express that the Church encourages the quest for truth and for the common good and may offer a space for higher learning open to all who want to commit themselves to this search, an indispensable premise for a true and fruitful dialogue among civilizations. Likewise in Amman two solemn liturgical celebrations took place: Vespers in the Greek-Melkite Cathedral of St George and Holy Mass in the International Stadium which enabled us to savour together the beauty of meeting one another as God's pilgrim People, rich in their different traditions and united in the one faith.

After leaving Jordan, in the late morning of Monday, 11 May, I landed in Israel where, from my arrival, I introduced myself as a pilgrim of faith in the Land where Jesus was born, lived, died and rose, and at the same time, as a pilgrim of peace to implore from God that in the place where he chose to make himself man all men and women may live as his children, that is, as brothers and sisters. This second aspect of my journey naturally emerged in my meetings with the civil authorities: in my visit to the Israeli President and to the President of the Palestinian Authority. In that Land blessed by God, it sometimes seems impossible to extricate oneself from the spiral of violence. But nothing is impossible to God and to those who trust in him! For this reason faith in the one just and merciful God, which is the most precious resource of those peoples, must be able to release its full charge of respect, reconciliation and collaboration. I desired to express this wish in paying a visit both to the Grand Mufti and the leaders of the Islamic community of Jerusalem and to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, as well as at the meeting with the organizations involved in inter-religious dialogue and then, at the encounter with the religious leaders of Galilee.

Jerusalem is the cross-roads of the three great monotheistic religions, and its very name "City of Peace" expresses God's plan for humanity: to make it one great family. This design, announced to Abraham, was completely fulfilled in Jesus Christ, whom St Paul calls "our peace", because through his Sacrifice he forcefully broke down the dividing wall of hostility (cf. Eph 2: 14). Thus all believers must leave behind them their prejudices and desire to dominate and must in harmony obey the fundamental Commandment: in other words to love God with all one's might and to love one's neighbour as oneself. It is to this that Jews, Christians and Muslims are called to bear witness, in order to honour with acts that God to whom they pray with their lips. And it is exactly this that I carried in my heart, in my prayers, as I visited in Jerusalem the Western or Wailing Wall and the Dome of the Rock, symbolic places respectively of Judaism and of Islam. The Visit to the Yad Vashem Memorial, built in Jerusalem in honour of the victims of the Shoah, was also a moment of intense recollection. In silence we paused there, praying and meditating on the mystery of the "name": every human person is sacred, and his name is written in the heart of the eternal God. The horrendous tragedy of the Shoah must never be forgotten! On the contrary, we must always remember that universal recommendation of sacred respect for human life, which always possesses an infinite value.

As I have already mentioned, the priority of my Journey was the Visit to the Catholic Communities of the Holy Land and this also took place in various stages at Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth. In the Upper Room, my mind fixed on Christ who washed the Apostles' feet and instituted the Eucharist, as well as on the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church on the Day of Pentecost, I was able to meet, among others, the Custos of the Holy Land and to meditate with him on our vocation to be one, to form one body and one mind, to transform the world with the gentle force of love. Of course, this call encounters particular difficulty in the Holy Land, therefore, with the heart of Christ I repeated to my brother Bishops his very words: "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Lk 12: 32). I then briefly greeted the women and men religious of contemplative life, thanking them for the service that with their prayers they offer to the Church and to the cause of peace.

Above all the supreme moments of communion with the Catholic faithful were the Eucharistic celebrations. In Josaphat Valley, in Jerusalem, we meditated on the Resurrection of Christ as a force of hope and peace for that City and for the whole world. In Bethlehem, in the Palestinian Territories, Holy Mass was celebrated in front of the Basilica of the Nativity with the participation of the faithful from Gaza, whom I had the joy to comfort personally, assuring them of my special closeness. Bethlehem, the place in which the celestial hymn of peace for all men rang out, is a symbol of the distance that still separates us from the fulfilment of that proclamation. Precariousness, isolation, uncertainty, poverty: all this has led so many Christians to leave for distant places. Yet the Church continues on her way, supported by the power of faith and witnessing to love with concrete works of service to the brethren such as, for example, the Caritas Baby Hospital in Bethlehem, supported by the Dioceses of Germany and Switzerland, and humanitarian action in the refugee camps. In the camp that I visited I wished to assure the families that are housed there of the closeness and encouragement of the universal Church and I invited everyone to seek peace with non violent methods, after the example of St Francis of Assisi. I celebrated the third and last Mass with the people last Thursday, in Nazareth, the town of the Holy Family. We prayed for all the families that they might rediscover the beauty of marriage and family life, the value of domestic spirituality and of education, attention to children who are entitled to grow up in peace and serenity. In addition, in the Basilica of the Annunciation, together with all the Pastors, consecrated people, ecclesial movements and lay people involved in Galilee, we sang our faith in the creative and transforming power of God. There, where the Word was made flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, flows an inexhaustible source of hope and joy that does not cease to bring life to the heart of the Church, a pilgrim through history.

My pilgrimage ended last Friday with the stop at the Holy Sepulchre and with two important ecumenical meetings in Jerusalem: at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, where the representatives of all the Churches in the Holy Land had gathered, and lastly, at the Armenian Apostolic Patriarchal Church. I am pleased to sum up the whole of the itinerary that I was granted to follow precisely in the sign of Christ's Resurrection: despite the vicissitudes that have scarred the Holy Places down the centuries, despite the wars, destruction and unfortunately also conflicts between Christians, the Church has continued her mission, impelled by the Spirit of the Risen Lord. She is on her way towards full unity, so that the world may believe in the love of God and experience the joy of his peace. On my knees on Calvary and at the Holy Sepulchre I invoked the power of love that flows from the Paschal Mystery, the only force that can renew men and women and direct history and the cosmos to its destiny. I also ask you to pray for this intention, as we prepare for the Feast of the Ascension which we shall be celebrating in the Vatican tomorrow. Thank you for your attention."

BXVI - General Audience, Saint Peter's Square, Wednesday, 20 May 2009 - © Copyright 2009 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Pope John Paul II on his Jubilee Pilgrimage to the Holy Places
- in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. Following the commemoration of Abraham and my brief but intense visit to Egypt and Mount Sinai, my Jubilee pilgrimage to the Holy Places brought me to the land that saw the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the beginning of the Church. My heart is filled with inexpressible joy and gratitude for this gift of the Lord, to which I had so looked forward. After visiting the Holy Land during the Second Vatican Council, I have now had the grace of returning there, together with some of my collaborators, in the year of the Great Jubilee, the 2,000th anniversary of Christ's birth. It was a return, in a sense, to the origins, to the roots of our faith and of the Church.

I thank the Latin Patriarch and the Bishops of the various Eastern Catholic Churches in the Holy Land, as well as the Franciscans of the Custody for their warm welcome and for all they did. I warmly thank the Jordanian, Israeli and Palestinian authorities who welcomed and assisted me during my religious journey. I appreciated their generous efforts to ensure the success of my visit and I reassured them of the Holy See's concern for a just peace among all the peoples of the region. I am grateful to the communities of those lands for the warm welcome they gave me.

2. The first stop - Mount Nebo - was a continuation of my visit to Sinai:  from the top of that mountain Moses beheld the Promised Land after fulfilling the mission entrusted to him by God and before giving up his soul to him. I began my journey, in a certain sense, with Moses' own gaze, realizing its evocative power that transcends centuries and millennia.

That gaze was turned to the Jordan Valley and the Judean desert, where, in the fullness of time, the voice would ring out of John the Baptist, sent by God, like a new Elijah, to prepare the way for the Messiah. Jesus wanted to be baptized by him, revealing that he was the Lamb of God who took upon himself the sin of the world. The figure of John the Baptist led me in the footsteps of Christ. I joyfully celebrated a solemn Mass in Amman Stadium for the Christian community living in that area, whom I found fervently religious and well integrated into the country's society.

3. After leaving Amman I stayed at the Apostolic Delegation in Jerusalem. From there my first destination was Bethlehem, the city where 3,000 years ago King David was born and where 1,000 years later, according to the Scriptures, the Messiah was born. In this year 2000 Bethlehem is the focus of the Christian world's attention:  from there came the Light of nations, Christ the Lord; from there spread the proclamation of peace for all men whom God loves.

Along with my collaborators, the Catholic Ordinaries, a number of Cardinals and many other Bishops, I celebrated Holy Mass in the city's main square, which is next to the cave where Mary gave birth to Jesus and laid him in a manger. The joy of Christmas, the joy of the Great Jubilee, is renewed in mystery. It was as if we could hear Isaiah's prophecy again:  "To us a child is born, to us a son is given" (Is 9: 6), with the angel's message:  "I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for behold to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord" (Lk 2: 10-11).

In the afternoon, I knelt with deep emotion in the cave of the Nativity, where I felt the whole Church spiritually present, all the world's poor among whom God chose to pitch his tent. A God who became an exile and a refugee in order to bring us back to his house. This thought accompanied me - before leaving the Palestinian Autonomous Territories - as I visited one of the many camps in Bethlehem where over three million Palestinian refugees have been living for too long. With everyone's effort may this sad problem finally be resolved!

4. The memory of Jerusalem can never be erased from my heart. Great is the mystery of this city where the fullness of time became, so to speak, the "fullness of space". Indeed, Jerusalem hosted the central, culminating event of salvation history:  Christ's paschal mystery. It was there that the purpose for which the Word became flesh was revealed and fulfilled:  in his death on the Cross and his Resurrection "everything was finished" (cf. Jn 19: 30). On Calvary the Incarnation was manifested as the Redemption in accordance with God's eternal plan.

The stones of Jerusalem bear a silent but eloquent witness to this mystery, starting with the Upper Room, where we celebrated the Holy Eucharist in the very place where it was instituted by Jesus. There, where the Christian priesthood was born, I remembered all priests and signed the Letter I addressed to them for next Holy Thursday.

Witness is also borne to this mystery by the olive trees and the rock of Gethsemane where Christ, seized with mortal anguish, prayed to the Father before his Passion. In a very special way Calvary and the empty tomb, the Holy Sepulchre, testify to those dramatic hours. Last Sunday, the Lord's Day, I renewed in that very place the message of salvation which spans the centuries and millennia:  Christ is risen! That was the moment when my pilgrimage reached its climax. For this reason I felt the need to pray again in the afternoon on Calvary, where Christ shed his blood for humanity.

5. In Jerusalem, the Holy City for Jews, Christians and Muslims, I met the Chief Rabbis of Israel and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. I then had a meeting with representatives of the other two monotheistic religions, Judaism and Islam. Despite great difficulties, Jerusalem is called to become the symbol of peace among those who believe in the God of Abraham and submit to his law. May men and women hasten the fulfilment of this plan!

At Yad Vashem, the Shoah Memorial, I paid homage to the millions of Jewish victims of Nazism. Once again I expressed my deep sorrow for that terrifying tragedy and reaffirmed that "we want to remember" in order to commit ourselves together - Jews, Christians and people of good will - to overcoming evil with good, so as to walk on the way of peace.

Today many Churches, heirs to ancient traditions, live their faith in the Holy Land. This diversity is a great treasure as long as it is accompanied by a spirit of communion in total fidelity to the faith of the Fathers. The Ecumenical Meeting held at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem with everyone's enthusiastic participation marked an important step on the journey towards full unity among Christians. It gave me great joy to be able to speak with His Beatitude Diodoros, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, and with His Beatitude Torkom Manoogian, Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem. I invite everyone to pray that the process of understanding and of collaboration among the Christians of the various Churches will be strengthened and developed.

6. A special grace of this pilgrimage was to celebrate Mass on the Mount of the Beatitudes near the Sea of Galilee with a large number of young people from the Holy Land and from all over the world. A moment filled with hope! As I proclaimed and entrusted to young people the Commandments of God and the Beatitudes, I saw in them the future of the Church and the world.

Also on the shores of that lake, I was deeply moved in visiting Tabgha, where Christ multiplied the loaves, the "place of the primacy", where he entrusted to Peter the pastoral guidance of the Church, and lastly in Capernaum the remains of Peter's house and the synagogue where Jesus revealed himself as the Bread come down from heaven for the life of the world (Jn 6: 26-58).

Galilee! Homeland of Mary and the first disciples; homeland of the Church sent on mission among the nations! I think that Peter always had cherished it in his heart, and so does his Successor!

7. On the liturgical feast of the Annunciation, we went back in a sense to the sources of the mystery of faith and knelt in the grotto of the Annunciation in Nazareth where, in Mary's womb, "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us" (Jn 1: 14). There, reflected in the Virgin's "fiat", one can hear in silent adoration God's loving "yes" to man, the amen of the eternal Son, who opens the path of salvation to every human being. There, in the reciprocal self-giving of Christ and Mary, are the hinges of every "holy door". There, where God became man, man rediscovers his dignity and high calling.

I thank everyone in the various Dioceses, religious houses and contemplative communities who spiritually followed the steps of my pilgrimage, and I assure them that I took the whole Church with me in prayer to the places I visited. Once again, as I express my gratitude to the Lord for this unforgettable experience, I ask him with humble trust to draw from it abundant fruits for the good of the Church and of humanity."

JPII- General Audience, The Vatican, Wednesday 29 May in the Great Jubilee Year 2000