Pope Benedict spent the first of a three day trip to Lebanon urging Christians in the middle east not to leave, but to continue dialogue with their Muslim compatriots.
He had gone to St Paul’s Basilica in Harissa to the north of the capital Beirut as part of the trip, which is focusing on the promotion of harmony between the two religious groups.
Leaders of all denominations were there to greet him.
It was a rare display of unity in a region gripped by violent anti-US protests and a civil war in Syria over the border just 50 kilometres away.
Earlier the pontiff had told journalists that importing weapons into Syria, which he said was a ‘grave sin’, had to stop. He also said the Arab Spring was a positive thing that had brought a desire for more democracy, freedom and cooperation. But he warned there must also be religious tolerance.
In Beirut, they were preparing for Sunday’s mass by the sea which will bring the pope’s visit to a close.
Seventy-five thousand seats are being set out, but organisers are expecting thousands more celebrants standing.