The Holy Land is scrambling in its preparations for the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI, pouring millions of dollars into infrastructure and security. It comes just nine years after his predecessor, John Paul II, made his historical visit. He will be travelling from May 8-15.
More than 1 million Christian pilgrims passed through Israel last year, and the tourism ministry is preparing for a spike in that number around the time of the pope’s visit. The pontiff will travel with heavy security, sometimes on new roads built specifically for him.
You can scroll down and read about the key stops, in chronological order, on his whirlwind tour.
Pope Benedict will begin his trip with a few days in Jordan. He is expected to give a speech at the ancient basilica on Mount Nebo that overlooks the Jordan River and Jerusalem. Mount Nebo is believed to be where the Prophet Moses died.
The pope will also hold a mass at the Amman International Stadium
Yad Vashem — One of the pope’s first stops in Israel will be at the Jewish state’s memorial to victims of the Nazi Holocaust. It is particularly significant because of the controversy surrounding his decision to lift the excommunication of a bishop who denies the Holocaust. Pope Benedict later admitted the Vatican mishandled the affair. He will meet Jewish Holocaust survivors and attend a ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance, a common stop among visiting dignitaries. He will also plant a tree in a nearby forest.