Pope Benedict XVI visit at Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem

Pope Benedict XVI speaking at Yad Vashem Pope Benedict XVI speaking at Yad Vashem

Laying down flowers in memory of the dead

Laying down flowers in memory of the dead

A moment of silence in memory of 6 Millions who slaughtered by the Nazis

A moment of silence in memory of 6 Millions who slaughtered by the Nazis


By Arlene B, Alon/IPM: MAY 11, 2009, Benedict XVI arrived at the Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem.

Yad Vashem – which literally means “a monument and a name” – was officially founded by the State of Israel in 1953 to commemorate the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

The Holocaust Memorial is composed of two museums, exhibition halls, outdoor monuments, and documentation and information centres. The name of the complex comes from a passage in the Book of Isaiah: “I will give, in my house and within my walls, a monument and a name. … I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off”.

Other memorial sites within the complex include the Children’s Memorial, a tribute to the approximately one and a half million children who died in the Holocaust; The Valley of the Communities, a monument dug in bedrock which commemorates the over 5,000 Jewish communities which were destroyed, and the Avenue and Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations, which honours the non- Jews who rescued Jews during the Holocaust.

The Pope was welcomed on arrival by the president and the director of the centre. He then walked around the perimeter of the memorial until reaching the entrance of honour to the Hall of Remembrance, where he was greeted by the president of the State of Israel, and by the rabbi chairman of Yad Vashem.

The Hall of Remembrance is a tent-like structure on the floor of which are the names of the six death camps and some of the concentration camps. There is also a memorial flame in front of which there is a crypt containing the ashes of some of the victims.

Benedict XVI stoked the flame and laid a floral wreath. Then, having met and conversed with six Holocaust survivors, he pronounced his address:

“I have come”, he said, “to stand in silence before this monument, erected to honour the memory of the millions of Jews killed in the horrific tragedy of the Shoah. They lost their lives, but they will never lose their names: these are indelibly etched in the hearts of their loved ones, their surviving fellow prisoners, and all those determined never to allow such an atrocity to disgrace mankind again. Most of all, their names are forever fixed in the memory of Almighty God.

“One can rob a neighbour of possessions, opportunity or freedom”, he added. “One can weave an insidious web of lies to convince others that certain groups are undeserving of respect. Yet, try as one might, one can never take away the name of a fellow human being”.

“The names enshrined in this hallowed monument will forever hold a sacred place among the countless descendants of Abraham. Like his, their faith was tested. Like Jacob, they were immersed in the struggle to discern the designs of the Almighty. May the names of these victims never perish! May their suffering never be denied, belittled or forgotten! And may all people of goodwill remain vigilant in rooting out from the heart of man anything that could lead to tragedies such as this!

The Catholic Church, committed to the teachings of Jesus and intent on imitating His love for all people”, said the Pope, “feels deep compassion for the victims remembered here. Similarly, she draws close to all those who today are subjected to persecution on account of race, colour, condition of life or religion – their sufferings are hers, and hers is their hope for justice. As Bishop of Rome and Successor of the Apostle Peter, I reaffirm – like my predecessors – that the Church is committed to praying and working tirelessly to ensure that hatred will never reign in the hearts of men again. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the God of peace.

“Gazing upon the faces reflected in the pool that lies in stillness within this memorial, one cannot help but recall how each of them bears a name. … Who could have imagined that they would be condemned to such a deplorable fate! As we stand here in silence, their cry still echoes in our hearts. It is a cry raised against every act of injustice and violence. It is a perpetual reproach against the spilling of innocent blood. It is the cry of Abel rising from the earth to the Almighty”.

Then, in order to “give voice to that cry”, the Pope read some verses from the Book of Lamentations which begin: “The favours of the Lord are not exhausted, His mercies are not spent”.

Having complete the reading, the Pope said: “I am deeply grateful to God and to you for the opportunity to stand here in silence: a silence to remember, a silence to pray, a silence to hope”.

At the end of the ceremony, the Holy Father signed the Yad Vashem visitors book in which he wrote a verse from the Book of Lamentations: “His mercies are not spent”. He then bid farewell to the authorities as a choir accompanied his departure, before travelling by car to the Notre Dame Pontifical Institute of Jerusalem.


~ by wherenwhen on May 11, 2009.

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