President Mahmoud Abbas visited Bethlehem on Saturday to welcome Patriarch of the Orthodox church of Moscow and Russia Kirill I, who is in the holy land to pray for peace.
Abbas and the patriarch headed to the Church of the Nativity and to the place where Kirill laid a foundation stone for a Russian hotel years earlier. They will also visit a Russian cultural center.
The patriarch’s visit will last for six days.
Kirill has visited the Old City in Jerusalem and met with the heads of other churches.
The patriarch says he came to pray at the holy sites, and especially in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, “for peace across the whole world, for the prosperity of Churches and for the salvation of all and everyone,” the Voice of Russia news agency reported.
“Every Christian certainly has a wish to get to the Holy Land at least once, to walk along the Via Dolorosa, and to venerate the stone on which Jesus’s body was placed,” he said.
The Russian Orthodox Church is the largest eastern church with some 150 million followers.