Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land - 25/03/2000 info: email@example.com
His Holiness Pope John Paul II returned to Jerusalem from Nazareth where this morning he celebrated the Eucharist in the Basilica of the Annunciation and after praying in the Grotto of the Annunciation. We learned that he had to do all the stairs from the lower basilica to the upper basilica as the security men did not want him to use the lift which was not working properly. This afternoon he received the Consuls of the various countries who have their representatives in this city (as all embassies are in Tel Aviv). From here he went down to Kidron Valley where he had a moment of personal prayer at the site of the Agony of the Lord, the eve of His Passion. For His Holiness this was another step in following the Mystery of Salvation which was fulfilled through the Mystery of Passion-Death-Resurrection which His Holiness will re-live tomorrow in the Church of the Resurrection (Anastasis). When he arrived at Gethsemane His Holiness passed through the Garden of Olives outside the Church. Here he paused for some moments and then he proceeded to the Church where he was received by the Franciscan community led by Fr Guardian and Fr. Custos. He went straight to kneel in front of the bare rock of the Agony in the presbytery area. He stayed for almost 10 minutes in complete silent prayer. After hearing the reading of the Gospel and kneeling again in front of the Rock of the Agony His Holiness greeted those present and left the sanctuary.
From the Church of the Agony His Holiness entered for the first time the Old City of Jerusalem. He came through Jaffa Gate passing by the Citadel and entering into the narrow roads of the Christian Quarters of the city where he went to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate for an ecumenical meeting. The ringing of bells and a sizeable crowd applauded as he arrived in the city escorted and monitored through close-circuit cameras installed purposely along the roads of the Old City and by a hovering helicopter. Soldiers and police have been patrolling this area of the city since early afternoon. At the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate during this meeting His Holiness delivered a speech.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE POPE'S SPEECH)
His Holiness left the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate through the same narrow roads of the City and through Jaffa Gate to return to the Apostolic Delegation for the night.