(photo credit: Knesset Speaker's Office )
Pope Francis’s historic 24-hour visit to the capital on May 25 has been planned to the minute by the Vatican, with nothing left to chance Indeed, his itinerary has been streamlined to fit in a plethora of visits to national landmarks, religious institutions and private meetings within a very short time frame, before he returns to Rome Monday evening.
Here’s an hour-by-hour account of his journey to the Holy Land.
After arriving at Ben-Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv, at 4:30 p.m., the Pope will make a brief address and then be transferred by helicopter to Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus heliport. At 6:15 p.m. he will meet with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople to sign a joint return in the capital’s Apostolic Delegation.
At 7 p.m., during an Ecumenical meeting on the 50th anniversary of the meeting between Pope Paul IV and Patriarch Athenagoras in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, the pontiff is scheduled to make another address.
At 8:15 p.m. he will have dinner with the Patriarchs and Bishops and the Papal entourage at the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, before retiring for the evening at the home of the Apostolic Nuncio to Israel outside the Old City.
At 8:15 a.m. the following morning, Francis will visit the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in the building of the Grand Council on the Temple Mount, where he will make another address, followed by a 9:10 a.m. visit to the Western Wall.
He will then travel to Mount Herzl at 9:45 a.m., where he will lay a wreath, followed by a 10 a.m. visit to Yad Vashem. At 10:45 a.m. he will be whisked away to Jerusalem’s Great Synagogue, where he will speak again after meeting with the two chief rabbis of Heichal Shlomo Center.
An hour later, Francis will briefly visit President Shimon Peres at his presidential residence.
At 1 p.m. the pontiff will host a private audience with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem’s Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem, followed by an extended lunch 30 minutes later with the papal entourage.
At 3:30 p.m. Francis will travel to the Orthodox Church Viri Galileai on the Mount of Olives to visit the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, in the building next to the Orthodox Church Viri Galileai.
He will then meet with priests, religious and seminarians at 4 p.m. in the Church of Gethsemane, at the foot of the Mount of Olives, where he will make an additional address.
At 5:20 p.m. the pontiff will hold a mass with the Ordinaries of the Holy Land and papal entourage in the room of the Cenacle in Jerusalem, during which he will present a homily.
Finally, at 7:30 p.m. Francis will be taken by helicopter from Mount Scopus to Ben Gurion International Airport, where at 8 p.m. a farewell ceremony will be held, before his plane returns to Rome at 8:15 p.m.