We had an amazing day attending the Papal Mass in Manger Square in Bethlehem. We arrived about 3 hours before Mass began. There was not a cloud in the sky, and though it was hot out, there was a fairly nice breeze throughout the morning and the humidity was very low. (That’s a real luxury for a Florida resident like me!)
The stage on which the altar was set had a very interesting mural. It featured the previous three popes who had visited the Holy Land, Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Check it out.
All around the square were banners which depicted the sufferings of the Palestinians and juxtaposed them with the sufferings of Christ. Here is the one that was to the left of the altar as we were looking at it.
The Holy Father flew into Palestinian territory directly from Jordan. Here is a shot of the crowd as the helicopters carrying the Pope and his entourage flew over Manger Square. If you look closely in the sky, you can see a couple of helicopters.
Security was very tight everywhere. Snipers were stationed atop the buildings all around the square. Also there were plain clothes security men throughout the crowd. I know because there were a couple of very burly guys with earpieces standing near Lino and me throughout the Mass. I figured they were keeping an eye on Lino.
I thought this next show was a study in paradox. Directly above this huge banner featuring the Pope, the Palestinian president and a peace dove was a sniper. Peace through automatic weapons, I suppose.
Eventually Pope Francis made his way into Manger Square in the popemobile. As reported, Pope Francis rides in an open popemobile with no bulletproof glass. The Holy Father was about 15 feet in front of me, but it was very hard to get a good photo of him. I had my camera on rapid fire, and this was the only decent picture I got. If you squint, you can see Pope Francis making his way through the crowd.
I managed to get a few decent shots of Pope Francis during the Mass.
Here are pictures of him doing the opening prayer, the homily and during the consecration.
When I’m in crowds with my camera, I love to take random shots of people. The rest of the pics are just slices of life from the crowd at the Papal Mass. Enjoy!