Both leaders... will be arriving in the Vatican around 6.30pm on Sunday evening, accompanied by delegations of about 20 people representing the different faith communities present in both states. Also taking part in the Vatican delegation will be the Orthodox Patriarch (Bartholomew of Constantinople) who played such a central role in the Pope’s recent pilgrimage to Jerusalem to recall a similar encounter between their predecessors exactly half a century ago.
Following a brief welcome in the Casa Santa Marta where he lives, Pope Francis will accompany the two presidents and the patriarch through the Vatican gardens to a specially prepared venue surrounded by two tall hedges between the Pontifical Academy of Sciences building and a wing of the Vatican museums. Fr Lombardi explained that each faith community will present a piece of music, then thank God for the gift of creation, ask forgiveness for sins committed and pray for the gift of peace. Pope Francis and the two presidents will add their own calls for peace in the region, before exchanging greetings, planting an olive tree as a visible symbol of their desire for an end to the conflict and sharing a moment of private conversation together.