"Heavenly Father, you never tire of being compassionate and loving. The successor of St. Peter plans to visit the Holy Land sanctified by your Son’s birth, baptism, teaching, death and resurrection. Be with him, sanctify him, and bless him. Spread the mantle of your kindness over every stage of his pilgrimage among us, that one may see in him a believing pilgrim, a wise teacher, and a humble leader".
This is how the special prayer that Catholics in the Holy Land can recite in the three weeks preceding Pope Francis’ visit in Jordan, Palestine and Israel (24-26 May), as an act of personal and communal devotion to ask the Lord to make the encounter of the Pope with the political authorities fruitful for justice and peace, protect all the residents of this land and the adherents of the religions of the Middle East.
"In this month of May that the Church traditionally dedicates to the Virgin Mary", explains to Fides Fr. Rifat Bader, director of the Catholic Centre for Studies and Media, the Church spokesman for the papal visit "with the blessing of Archbishop Maroun Laham we have expressed hope that the prayer be concomitant with every meeting and can be recited daily after Praying the Rosary. It will be a simple and effective way to prepare oneself spiritually for Pope Francis’ pilgrimage, both in Jordan and in other parishes of the Holy Land".
The prayer entrusts to the Lord also the strong intention expressed in Pope Francis’ ecumenical pilgrimage: Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I was the first to suggest the Bishop of Rome, a common pilgrimage to Jerusalem after fifty years since the historic meeting that took place in the Holy City between Pope Paul VI and ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras. "Lord Jesus Christ, who prayed for the unity of your Church", saying: "May they all be one, make the meeting in Jerusalem between the Holy Father and the Ecumenical Patriarch an incentive to increase our efforts for the unity of your children".
It asks in particular that the meeting with the Successor of Peter, confirms the faith of the children of the Church: "Good Shepherd, whose image Pope Francis carries on his pectoral cross, walking in the spirit of humility with which you have graced him deepen within us the awareness of our Christian identity, that as true disciples, we may bear witness to your Good News and your resurrection in our churches, our society, and all the world, especially by serving the sick, the poor, and the refugees".