LAST UPDATED: 05/26/2014 09:36
Pope Francis laid a wreath at the tomb of Theodor Herzl before continuing on to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem on Monday. The pontiff is wrapping up his historic visit to the region with a message of peace and reconciliation between the three monotheistic faiths in the Holy Land.
Following his visit with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem at the Temple Mount, Pope Francis continued on to the Western Wall where he was greeted by the Rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinovitch.
The pope was treated to a short history lesson about the First and Second Temples, which was followed by a short speech from Rabbi Rabinovitch on the importance of Jerusalem to the Jews.
Rabinovitch also spoke about the threat of anti-Semitism, making reference to the shooting in Brussels at the Jewish Museum on Saturday. Rabinovitch stressed that Jerusalem must be a city of peace for all nations.
The pope declined to speak at this event, but he approached the Wall, where he prayed for about 90 seconds before he placing a note inside.
Rabbi Avraham Skorka, a close friend of the pontiff who is accompanying him on this trip, told Channel 10 that Francis prayed “that the [West Bank] security barrier and that genuine peace will come.”
“The last time we spoke was last night,” Skorka said. “This isn’t an easy visit for him, and it included important acts and events with special significance.”
“Nonetheless, he’s content, calm, and he knows how to balance emotions and to be level-headed.”
Security at the Wall was tight, with hundreds of policemen standing guard, and helicopters and snipers keeping watch from above.
Pope Francis set the tone for the second day of his visit to Israel with a message of tolerance at the Temple Mount.
He called upon all those who identify with Abraham – Christians, Jews and Muslims – to respect one another as brothers and sisters.
“Let us learn how to understand the pain of others and no one will use violence in the name of God,” he said.
The pope was expected to visit Yad Vashem later on Monday, where he will shake the hands of six Holocaust survivors, each with a survival story relating to Christianity.
The pontiff toured the Temple Mount complex Monday morning before paying a visit to the Western Wall.
Francis also met Muslim communal leaders, among them the mufti of Jerusalem.