National Geographic : 1964 Dec
First Pope to fly and first to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Paul VI arrives in Amman on January 4, 1964. Hussein salutes the Vatican flag. Papal aircraft, an Alitalia DC-8 three and a half hours out of Rome, stands beyond the Apostolic Del egate to Jerusalem (hat in hand) and other digni taries. Paul visited holy places on both sides of the Arab-Israeli truce line, announcing he was on a spiritual pilgrimage, not a political journey. Arabs, who revere Jesus as a prophet, received the Pope with ovations. Holding prayer beads, Sheik Nadim Mallah smokes his water pipe. The Koranic scholar in structed the King's Eng lish wife in Islam. White cloth, or laffe, around his tarboosh identifies him as a man of God. Rival bands of horsemen staged mock fights, charging across the sand and firing volleys of shots with their carbines and pistols. Finally the mansaf was served, on great metal dishes each bearing a roasted whole sheep nested in a mound of rice and pine nuts, all drenched in a rich white sauce made of yoghurt and butter. With the right hand, the guest picks out a choice bit of lamb and kneads it and the rice into a round ball that slips easily into the mouth. It is an art to do this, one that I only partly learned. But a properly prepared mansaf is one of the most delicious dishes I have ever eaten. Papal Visit Narrows Old Differences Just before I left Jordan, I witnessed one of the great events in the history of the Holy Land: the visit in January, 1964, of His Holi ness Pope Paul VI, the first Pope to visit the scenes of Christ's life in nearly 2,000 years. 824 In a speech delivered to 1,600 members of the world press gathered in Jerusalem two days before the arrival of the Pope, His Majesty said: "The pilgrimage of His Holi ness the Pope re-emphasizes the fundamental affinity of our two great religions. "One of the unfortunate distortions of history has been the widespread belief that Christianity and Islam are fundamentally antagonistic and therefore irreconcilable.... Islam reveres and believes in the divine nature of Jesus Christ... and our holy Koran has nowhere anything but reverence and belief in the divine message of Christ. "In Jordan the adherents of our two great faiths live side by side as good citizens. We do not preach tolerance; we live it. It is my earnest hope that the visit of His Holiness may herald a new era of genuine understand ing... between our two great religions." I was at Amman Airport on the gray and cold day when Pope Paul's great jet, blazoned with the white-and-yellow Vatican colors and the emblem of the Keys of St. Peter, set down.