Tags: Pope | Celebrates | Mass | Damascus

Pope Celebrates Mass in Damascus

Sunday, 06 May 2001 12:00 AM

The pope, who entered the Abbaseen stadium in his white "Popemobile," addressed the cheering crowd by saying in Arabic: "Salam Aleykoum" (Peace be on you).

The crowd returned his salute by saying "Aleyoukm Salam" and shouted: "We love you, John Paul II."

The Pope's Sunday mass attracted Syrian Christians and Muslims from across the country who flocked to the stadium since the early morning hours to secure a seat before doors closed at 7:30 a.m. Thousands of Christian faithful came from neighboring Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Iraq to attend the event.

Lamis al-Ouzoun, a 16-year-old Muslim girl from Damascus, was accompanied by some of her family members to the mass apparently driven by curiosity.

"We want to see the Pope and how a mass is being held," al-Ouzoun said. "It's not everyday that we have a Pope here."

Big screens were placed outside the stadium to allow many others who did not have the chance to be inside to follow the mass which started with music played by Syria's national symphony orchestra.

The Pope was holding his mass on a special stage-temple which was designed for the occasion representing the Basilica of St. Simeon Stylite, located in Aleppo in northern Syria. It was being broadcast live by Syrian and dozens others of television stations across the world.

Some 40,000 Syrian and Vatican flags as well as 15,000 shirts with Pope's pictures were distributed to the crowd.

The Holy See was the first Pope to visit Syria, a dominant Muslim country whose 10 per cent of its 17 million population are Christians. Nearly 35 per cent of Syrian Christians are Catholics.

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Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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The pope, who entered the Abbaseen stadium in his white Popemobile, addressed the cheering crowd by saying in Arabic: Salam Aleykoum (Peace be on you). The crowd returned his salute by saying Aleyoukm Salam and shouted: We love you, John Paul II. The Pope's Sunday...
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2001-00-06
Sunday, 06 May 2001 12:00 AM
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