VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis has announced that he will travel to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan May 24-26.
The visit marks the pope's first trip to the Holy Land and is so far his only foreign travel planned for 2014.
Francis told people gathered in the rain for his weekly Sunday blessing that he would visit Amman, Bethlehem and Jerusalem.
The prime aim is to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic meeting in Jerusalem between Pope Paul VI and the then-spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, Ecumenical Patriarch Atengora. Francis will be joined in Jerusalem by the current ecumenical patriarch, Bartholomew.
They will celebrate Mass together at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where the faithful believe Jesus was crucified and buried.