We had the marvelous change to experience the Papal Mass held in Bethlehem on May 25. The excitement of the local Christians from the Galilee, Gaza and Bethlehem was evident with their songs of welcome to Pope Francis led by a joyous choir and plenty of flags waving.
We stood in Manger Square for several hours before Pope Francis made his entry in the pope mobile. We had a quick glimpse of him as the vehicle drove toward the altar area. The backdrop of the altar area depicted three previous popes who have visited the Holy Land, Paul VI, St. John Paul 2 and Benedict XVI as well as Sts. Francis, Clare and Catherine standing to the side of the Holy Family. The Mass was mostly in Arabic with the Pope's homily in Italian about the dignity of children as a commentary to the Christmas Mass readings about the Birth of Christ.