In his last major event of his three-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Pope Francis celebrated Mass before the men and women that look after the Holy Places.
The Eucharistic celebration took place at the Cenacle, or Upper Room, the reported site of the Last Supper.
"Here the Church was born, and was born to go forth. From here she set out, with the broken bread in her hands, the wounds of Christ before her eyes, and the Spirit of love in her heart.”
Before the start of his homily, Pope Francis expressed his gratitude to the patriarchs of the Eastern Catholic Churches that part in his pilgrimage.
"I would like to thank them for their significant presence, particularly valuable to me. They have a special place in my heart and in my prayer.”
In his homily, the Pope said the events that happened at the Upper Room: the washing of the feet, the Supper, the Pentecost, represent service, sacrifice and the promise of a new life. It's also a sign of the Lord's friendship, he added.
"This is the most beautiful experience for a Christian, especially for a priest, to become a friend of our Lord, Jesus, to find within His heart that He is our friend.”
The Pope explained that all of God's children are called to be a part of the Church's family, with a Father and the Virgin Mary as their Mother.
Even though it's an unchanged, centuries-old ritual, the breaking of the bread took on added significance. In that very place, nearly 2000 years ago, Christ had done the same with his 12 Disciples.
The Eucharist served as the high point of the celebration. Due to limited space, only his travel delegation and the Franciscans of the Holy Land took part in the Mass.
FR. PIERBATTISTA PIZZABALLA
Custos of the Holy Land
"With the end your pilgrimage, we join all peoples from this Land in expressing our sincere and affectionate gratitude for the testimony of peace and unity that you have brought. We will pray for your here, and in all the places of redemption.”
Once the Eucharistic celebration ended, Pope Francis stepped into the Cenacle, with his black suitcase in hand.
Along the way, he greeted religious men and women, as well as religious figure sending him off, and thanking him for his visit.
IGNATIUS JOSEPH III YONUAN
Syriac Catholic Patriarch of Antioch
"Thank very much, Your Holiness. Have a good trip on the way back. Thank you for your prayers for Syria, especially. I was in Homs six days ago.”