2012-01-04 Vatican RadioOn January 4th 1964 history was made when Pope Paul the 6th began the first ever papal visit to the Holy Land. Lasting less than two days, the visit took the pope to the main holy sites in Nazareth, Jerusalem and Bethlehem and included several important ecumenical meetings. His visit also marked the first time that a Roman Pontiff had ever travelled in a plane and it was the first time a reigning pope had left Italy in more than a century.
The newspapers of that date hailed the announcement of Pope Paul’s visit to the Holy Land as “astonishing” saying he clearly wished to go beyond every historical precedent. On arriving in Jordan at this start of his visit, the Pope stressed that his visit was purely pastoral and described it as a humble pilgrimage to the Holy Sites. But what memories do people from the Holy Land have of that historic visit?
Listen to this report from Susy Hodges that includes sound clips of Pope Paul VI speaking in English at the start of his visit and testimony from several people who witnessed at first hand the papal visit to Jerusalem. in January 1964: