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5/20/2009 5:44 PM
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At the General Audience held in St. Peter's Square today, the Holy Father Benedict XVI reported on his recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Here is how he synthesized it in English:

My recent Apostolic Journey to the Holy Land was a pilgrimage to the sources of our faith and a pastoral visit to the Christian communities in the lands of our Lord’s birth, death and resurrection.

I am grateful to the civil authorities, the Latin Patriarch and the Bishops of the local Churches, the Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Land and all those who contributed to the Journey.

Throughout my visit I wished to be a pilgrim of peace, reminding Jews, Christians and Muslims alike of our commitment, as believers in the one God, to promote respect, reconciliation and cooperation in the service of peace.

In Jerusalem, "the city of peace" sacred to the followers of the three great monotheistic traditions, this was the message I brought to the holy places, and particularly to the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock.

One of the most solemn moments was the commemoration of the victims of the Shoah at Yad Vashem.

My visit to the local Churches culminated in the Masses celebrated in Amman, Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth.

My pilgrimage ended in prayer on Calvary and before the Holy Sepulchre, the empty tomb, which continues to radiate a message of hope for individuals and for the whole human family.

With gratitude for the many blessings of this pilgrimage, I ask you to join me in praying for the needs of the Church in the Near East and the gift of peace for the entire region

Today's audience was marked a display of flag twirling and acrobatics by a group recreating a medieval religious procession and the fact that the Holy Father donned the 'saturno' for the first time this year on a summer-warm spring day.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/21/2009 12:38 AM]
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