Royalty and statesmen

Over 4,000 people turned out to hear the pontiff say mass in olive groves close to the Garden of Gethsemane
Photo: Rex
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While in the Holy Land the Pope visited sites sacred to both Muslims and Jews. He became the first pontiff to visit the Dome of Rock, one of Islam's holiest shrines, and followed tradition by posting a written prayer in the Wailing Wall
Photo: Rex

Thousands gather to hear Pope Benedict say mass in the Holy Land

13 MAY 2009
Thousands of followers gathered in the warm sunshine of the olive groves outside the walls of Jerusalem's Old City on Tuesday to hear Pope Benedict celebrate mass.

As the Roman Catholic leader's 'popemobile' came into sight a choir began to sing hymns in Arabic and great cheers went up from those awaiting his arrival. The venue for the open-air service was a site just below the Garden of Gethsemane, where Christians believe Jesus prayed before being arrested and taken away by the Roman authorities.

The mass was the pontiff's first on the West Bank leg of his eight-day pilgrimage. In Jerusalem the 82-year-old visited other religious sites, including the Wailing Wall, where he placed a written prayer.

On Wednesday he was in Bethlehem, leading several thousand Christians in a mass in Manger Square, believed to be the birthplace of Christ.

The papal tour draws to an end on Friday with a stop-off in Jesus's boyhood hometown of Nazareth.

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