Singing a message of peace on earth and good will to all men in Bethlehem’s Manger Square, Americans on a Holy Tour joined the local faithful for the biggest Christmas Eve concert in the traditional birthplace of Jesus since 1999. Led by a reverend from Mississippi, the choir from Tennessee also backed New York Opera star Stuart Neil.
The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Michel Sabah – the first Palestinian to hold the post – after a procession outside the Church of the Nativity, led Midnight Mass at Saint Catherine’s Church, in the presence of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, diplomats, dignatories and Christian locals and pilgrims.
The Holy Land’s top Roman Catholic official addressed Abbas – a Muslim, saying: “We pray you have success in your difficult mission of bringing security to the region, uniting the people and achieving peace.”
Sabah added: “God wanted this land to be a land for all – Jews, Christians and Muslims. Every state established in this land, be it Israeli or Palestinian, must understand the sweeping nature of this Holy Land, in order to be able to host whoever lives here.”