May 5, 2009
. The first four months of 2009 have been filed with “firsts” for Pope Benedict. His first trip to Africa and his soon to be first trip to the Holy Land, among them.
Next month he will make his first visit to an Arab country as Pontiff when he goes to Jordan on the first leg of his trip to the Holy Land.
His itinerary is expected to include a visit to Jordan’s largest mosque in Amman and a meeting with King Abdullah to discuss issues relating to Christian-Islamic dialogue.
While in Jordan, the Pope will visit a center, built with the help of several foundations in Europe, that provides services to 900 physically and mentally disabled every year.
But the highlight of the trip to Jordan will undoubtedly be visiting the site of Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan Valley.Then on Monday, May 11th, Benedict XVI will land in Israel for the second part of his trip.
There, the Pope will meet with political and religious authorities and visit one of the holy sites of Islam, the Dome of the Rock, where according to the Koran, Muhammad left his mark before ascending to the heavens.
The Pope will also pray at the Wailing Wall and visit the Holocaust memorial.
The biggest meeting with Catholics will be held here in Manger Square, next to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Preparations are just about ready for the Pope’s arrival in what will probably be the most significant trip of his pontificate.