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Papal Pilgrimage to Holy Sepulchre

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PAPAL PILGRIMAGE ENDS WITH VISIT TO CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE

Jerusalem, Israel - 15 May 2009 - On the final day of his five-day pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Pope Benedict XVI visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City, revered as the site of Jesus' crucifixion, burial and resurrection. 

A traditional escort of men in black robes and red fezzes, rhythmically banging staffs on the ground to announce his approach, accompanied the Pontiff as he entered the Church. The Pope knelt down and kissed the rectangular stone on which Jesus' body is believed to have been placed after the crucifixion - a gesture that millions of pilgrims make when they visit the Church, one of the most visited Christian sites in Israel.
 
Pope Benedict at Church of the Holy Sepulchre
When Pope Benedict entered the structure inside the church marking the site of Jesus' tomb, he knelt inside alone for several minutes, hands clasped, as priests chanted nearby.

In his address at the church, the Pope urged those gathered in the church not to lose hope: "The Gospel reassures us that God can make all things new, that history need not be repeated, that memories can be healed, that the bitter fruits of recrimination and hostility can be overcome... With those words of encouragement, I conclude my pilgrimage to the holy places of our redemption and rebirth in Christ."

At the state ceremony at Ben Gurion International Airport marking the end of his visit, the Pontiff spoke of "some of the powerful impressions that my pilgrimage to the Holy Land has left me", expressed his sorrow at the brutal extermination of Jews in the Holocaust and called for the realization of the two-state solution.

Pope Benedict Farewell Ceremony

In his speech, President Shimon Peres thanked the pope for his visit to the Holy Land, and called his "journey to the Holy Land... a heartfelt example of the exercise of spiritual values and ...a significant contribution to the new relations between the Vatican and Jerusalem."
 
After the ceremony, the Pope boarded a special El Al flight back to Rome, together with the members of his delegation.

 
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Hi Sara,

What a wonderful time Ken and I had in Israel. It was such an overwhelming spiritual and emotional experience. Our tour guide, Joam , was a wealth of Israel history. He provided us with sites and information that took us back in time. It was amazing!  It was also very nice to meet your brother at our last dinner together.

The renewal of our 50th marriage vows in Cana was extraordinary, especially the little party of wine and sweets after the ceremony. Going that extra mile was appreciated.

Pastor Giles showed us everyday what a good shepherd he is by being concerned with his flock of people 24 hours a day X 10 days. He was always there ready to help each and everyone who needed help. We experienced that when our luggage was tagged, by the check in person in Israel, to go straight to Raleigh. So when we landed in JFK Ken and I started toward the AA terminal. However, we did not realize that instead our luggage landed at JFK. Pastor Giles saw our luggage, phoned us, and told us he would make sure that our luggage went to Raleigh. He didn't have to do that, the tour was over, and that was our responsibility.  Instead, he again took care of us just like a good shepherd.  What a glorious ending to our tour when we saw our luggage coming down the carousal. Thank you ABBA and Pastor Giles.

We sincerely thank everyone involved in our trip.
Ken and Pat Kasprzyk