As the visit comes to a close, a look back at some of the more memorable moments from Francis’s journey to the region:
• In Jordan, the pope kicks off his trip Saturday by issuing a scathing rebuke to arms dealers. “We all want peace, but looking at the tragedy of war, looking at the wounded, seeing so many people who left their homeland who were forced to go away, I ask, ‘Who sells weapons to these people to make war?'” he asked. “This is the root of evil, the hatred, the love of money.”
• On Sunday morning, Francis flies by helicopter to Bethlehem, where he become the first pontiff to visit the Palestinian Authority before Israel.
• The pope then meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He calls the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians “unacceptable” and urges both sides to make sacrifices to reach peace.
• After meeting Abbas, Francis makes what will likely be remembered as his most memorable stop, an unplanned detour to the security barrier in Bethlehem, where he bows his head amid anti-Israel graffiti and says a prayer for there to be no need for the wall. He also refers to the “State of Palestine,” in historic move.
— Vatican News (@VaticanNews) May 25, 2014
• The pope then celebrates mass at Manger Square, making a plea for an end to exploitation of children amid a throng of cheering Christians.
• On Sunday afternoon, Francis takes a helicopter to Israel’s Ben-Gurion airport, where he is greeted by a gaggle of top government officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres. “Even if peace calls for sacrifices, the sacrifices of peace are preferable to the threat of war,” Peres says. Francis says “there is no other way” but to restart peace talks aiming for a two-state solution to the conflict, and also condemns terror attack at Belgium Jewish Museum.
• Francis meets with Eastern counterpart Bartholomew I at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, fulfilling the official reason for his visit. The two call for Christian unity.
— Ecumenical Patriarch (@EcuPatriarch) May 25, 2014
• On Monday, pope begins whirlwind tour of Jerusalem with trip to Temple Mount, where he makes calls for interfaith cooperation. “May no one abuse the name of God through violence,” he says.
• Pope then visits Western Wall, placing a note with “Our Father” prayer in Spanish in a crack.
• From Old City Francis travels to lay a wreath on grave of Theodor Herzl. While there, he agrees to add unscheduled stop at terror victims’ memorial, at Netanyahu’s behest. While visiting the site, pontiff is told that the reason for the security barrier is to prevent terror attacks. Pope makes plea for end to terror.
• Francis then visits Yad Vashem, where he kisses the hands of six survivors and calls Holocaust greatest evil known to humanity.
• Meeting with Israel’s chief rabbis, Francis called Jews the “older brothers” of Christians.
• At a Presidents’ Residence ceremony, fatigued-looking pope holds private meeting with Peres and is regaled by choir.
• In meeting with Netanyahu, prime minister once again defends security barrier to pope, telling him that “when incitement and terror against Israel stops, there won’t be the need for the security fence, which has saved thousands of lives.”
• Francis then prays with priests and seminarians at Church of Gethsemane, before planting “tree of peace,” echoing move by Paul VI 50 years earlier.
• After mass at Cenacle on Mount Zion, pope makes way to airport for farewell ceremony.
Times of Israel Staff/ AP