Damascus - On Sunday 7th. June, in the evening, His Beatitude Patriarch Gregorios III, together with four bishops, celebrated the Divine Liturgy at Mismiyeh, where Saint Paul is traditionally thought to have stayed during his three years spent in the Hauran wilderness, meditating on his experience of Christ and working as a tent-maker. Some four thousand people, including troops of scouts, attended the Liturgy.
In the evening of Monday 8th. June, His Beatitude led a pilgrimage, accompanied by prayers and hymns, from the Melkite Greek Catholic Church of Saint Joseph, Damascus, to the sanctuary of Memorial Saint Paul, not far from Bab Sharqi, where he presided at a service initiated by the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarchate. The Memorial, which is in the care of the Franciscans, was founded by the late Pope Paul VI after his pilgrimage to the Holy Land and his fraternal meeting with the late Patriarch Athenagoras in 1964. The grotto in the garden of the Memorial is traditionally venerated as the place where Saint Paul rested after escaping in a basket down from the walls of the city.