1. The tour will be the Pope’s first visit to the area as Pontiff. He announced the trip to thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square during his Sunday address.
2. The trip to Amman, Jerusalem and Bethlehem will mark the 50th anniversary of a landmark trip there by Pope Paul VI in 1964.
3. He will visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in East Jerusalem, where Jesus is said to buried.
4. The church is in an area disputed by Palestinians and Israelis. The Pope has made many appeals for peace since his election last year.
5. The Pope singled out the Holy Land for prayers in his Christmas address last month, saying:
Bless the land where you chose to come into the world, and grant a favourable outcome to the peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.