As Pope Francis heads to Bahrain, where else have popes visited in the Middle East?

Journey to the UAE marked the first Papal Mass in the Arabian Peninsula

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Pope Francis will begin a four-day trip to Bahrain on Thursday, his second official visit to the Gulf following his journey to the UAE in 2019.

The Pope will hold Papal Mass on Saturday in the capital Manama.

His predecessors made several visits to the Middle East.

First Papal visit outside Europe

The first papal visit by plane was made by Pope Paul VI, who flew from Italy to Jordan in 1964 — the first time the head of the Catholic Church had left Europe.

King Hussein received him in Amman before he travelled to Jerusalem.

“The Church looks upon Muslims with respect,” Paul VI said at the time.

In May 2001, John Paul II became the first pope ever to enter a mosque when he visited Syria — 10 years before civil war broke out in the country.

He went to the world-famous Umayyad Mosque, built in the year 715 in Syria's capital Damascus.

The Umayyad Mosque in Damascus was visited by Pope John Paul II. AFP

He reminded the world of Syria's “magnificent contribution” to Christian history.

“We remember that it was in fact in Syria that the Church of Christ discovered her truly catholic character and took on her universal mission,” he said.

Two years later, John Paul II called for a global fast to support peace in the Middle East when US president George W Bush was about to declare war in Iraq following the September 11 attacks of 2001 on the World Trade Centre.

John Paul II subsequently made trips to Egypt, Lebanon and Turkey.

Lebanon visit to come

Pope Benedict XVI's final papal trip was to Lebanon in 2012.

“I pray to God for Lebanon, that she may live in peace and courageously resist all that could destroy or undermine that peace. I hope that Lebanon will continue to permit the plurality of religious traditions and not listen to the voices of those who wish to prevent it,” he said.

There are plans for Pope Francis to visit Lebanon in the near future.

He has added Arabic as an official language for his weekly general audience addresses in St Peter's Square.

His trip to the UAE was also significant in that it marked the first Papal Mass to be held in the Arabian Peninsula when he visited Abu Dhabi in February 2019.

Interreligious dialogue was the focus of his two-day trip, which was followed by the UAE's announcement that it would build the Abrahamic Family House that will bring together the world's three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

The Abrahamic Family House in Abu Dhabi will bring together the world's three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Last year, Pope Francis also visited Iraq, known as the birthplace of civilisation, some four years after ISIS was defeated after the militants captured a third of the country in 2014.

“Let the guns fall silent,” he said during a speech at the Presidential Palace in Baghdad during his trip. “Enough violence, enough polarisation … let us help the citizens who want to build this nation.”

Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar have yet to be visited by a Roman Catholic pope.

Updated: November 02, 2022, 1:17 PM