2009-10-14 16:15:55

Pope to visit Rome synagogue in January, Vatican says

(Oct.14,2009): In a gesture of interfaith reconciliation, Pope Benedict XVI will visit the Rome synagogue and meet with the city's Jewish community in January, the Vatican announced. The Pope's visit on Jan. 17, 2010, coincides with the Roman Jewish commemoration of "Lead Mo'ed," which marks a torrential rain in 1793 that saved Jews from a Roman mob's attempt to attack them. Pope Benedict's predecessor, Pope John Paul II, made history in 1986, when he became the first pope to visit the Roman synagogue. Pope Benedict's visit comes at the invitation of Rabbi Riccardo di Segni, the chief rabbi of Rome. In a statement explaining the significance of the date of the visit, the Vatican said "Lead Mo'ed" recalls a historical event considered miraculous by the Roman Jewish community.
In 1793, anti-Jewish tensions ran high throughout the Papal States because Jews were being blamed for supporting new revolutionary ideas coming from France. A Roman mob descended on the city's Jewish ghetto, intent on burning down its gates and doing violence to its residents. Authorities were unable to stop the rabble and feared the worst, but a sudden and tremendous downpour extinguished the mob's torches and scattered the crowd, saving the ghetto's inhabitants. The name "Lead Mo'ed" refers to the dark, leaden color of the Roman skies just before the rain began to fall.
Pope Benedict has made Catholic-Jewish relations a priority of his pontificate and has visited synagogues in New York, and Cologne in Germany. He also visited Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp in Poland. During his trip to the Holy Land in May, he met with Holocaust survivors at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

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