Vatican City, Jan 5 (EFE). Pope Francis said Sunday that he will travel to the Holy Land on May 24-26 on a pilgrimage that will take him to Bethlehem and Jerusalem, as well as to Amman, the capital of Jordan.
"In the climate of joy that is typical of the Christmas season" the pontiff announced his upcoming trip during his regular weekly Sunday blessing on St. Peter's Square.
The pope said that the main aim of the trip will be to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and the then-spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, Ecumenical Patriarch Atengora.
"There will be three stops: Amman, Bethlehem and Jerusalem. At the Holy Sepulchre we will hold an ecumenical meeting with all representatives of the Christian churches of Jerusalem, along with Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. Starting now, I ask you to pray for this pilgrimage," the pope said.
This will be Pope Francis's second big international trip since he assumed the papacy in March 2013. Last July, he traveled to Brazil for World Youth Day.
Pope Benedict XVI had traveled to the Holy Land on May 8-15, 2009, visiting Jordan, Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth.
Francis will be the fourth pontiff to travel to the region, after Pope Paul VI did so on Jan. 4-6, 1964, John Paul II on March 20-26, 2000, and Benedict XVI in 2009.