We arrived at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel after a 10-hour flight from Philadelphia on Friday. The entire country is abuzz with preparations for the historic visit of Pope Francis and his meeting with the head of the Orthodox Church, Bartholomew I.
We saw banners emblazoned with photos of the ever-popular Pope Francis adorning buildings in downtown Jerusalem. The streets were mostly quiet, even despite it being rush hour, because we arrived on the Shabbat, or sabbath day, for Jews.
As we drove to our hotel in Jerusalem, we saw dozens of Orthodox Jewish men dressed in their dark suits and broad-brimmed black hats, walking alongside the road.
At our hotel, the David Citadel, not far from the Old City gates, we caught a glimpse of Bartholomew I and his entoruage. There’s a welcome banner in the lobby of the hotel that announces the “Apostolic Pilgrimage to Jerusalem: The brothers of Galilee, Peter and Andrew in the Holy Land.” A papal and an Israeli flag flank the banner.