Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land - 22/03/2000 info: firstname.lastname@example.org
The first day of the pilgrimage in the Holy Land by Pope John Paul II passed by. Today he will face another tough day: Mass at the Stadium in Amman, visit to Wadi Kharrar (Bethany beyond the Jordan), flight to Tel Aviv and a helicopter drive to Jerusalem where he will be staying duing the nights of his pilgrimage in Israel and in the territories under the Palestinian Authority.
The Jordanian people welcomed with enthusiasm His Holiness and his carcade was met with applause and flag waving. His speech at the airport (reciprocated by His Majesty King Abdullah II) and his prayers at Mount Nebo imprinted the beginning of this pilgrimage with a hope for a peaceful Middle-east for which all people of goodwill, be them Christians, Moslems or Jews, should work together because there is only One God and only One peace. Yesterday, both at the airport and on Mount Nebo we could well see an aging Pope full of stamina and concentrated on the Mysteries he himself is living in this land to which he was "called" to visit. A land blessed by God but many a time disturbed by humanity! his Holiness, even if leaning on the stick looked attentive and relaxed. He was among friends and certainly this helped to open the intensive pilgrimage he has undertaken.
Amman spent the night with the Pope in its midst!
The early occupation of Amman dates back to the Neolithic period (ca. 6500 BC). Archaeological excavation at Ain Ghazal has shown evidence not only of a settled life then but also the growth of artistic work. Since that time Amman has seen the rise and fall of many civilizations. In the thirteenth century Amman was called Rabbath Ammon by the Ammonites. Then came the Assyrians Followed by the Persians then the Greeks, who called it Philadelphia. In the first century BC Philadelphia became under the Roman control and joined the Decapolis, a league of ten cities. In the following centuries, 324 AD, Christianity became the religion of the empire and Philadelphia became the seat of bishopric. This was the start of the Byzantine era.
It got its present name Amman in the Ghasanaian era, And flourished under the Ummayads and the Abbasids. Then it was destroyed by the many earthquakes and disasters until 1887 which marks the settlement of the Circassians . On March 2, 1921 Prince Abdullah chose Amman as his seat of government. This date marks the beginning of the modern history of Amman and Jordan. Lack of resources did not discourage people. The chief Minister's office was established in a little building by the stream. Until 1948 Amman remained confined to the two main valley beds. Since then the population has grown steadily as a result of the influx of Palestinian refuges. Residential areas have spread out from the center of the city to the surrounding hills. In the last two decades Amman has undergone an exceptionally rapid rate of development and witnessed feverish building activities. Its population is estimated at about 1.2 million people.
This Pope will celebrate the Eucharist in the Stadium of the Amman Municipal sport Centre where the crowds are already filling the stands and the 2000 young children who will receive the first Holy Communion are already crowding the pitch! The Pope arrived alrfeady at the Stadium to prepare for this celebration.