His head bowed and hands clasped in front of him, Pope Francis on Saturday stood in two minutes of silent prayer facing east inside one Istanbul’s most important religious sites, as he shifted gears toward more religious affairs on the second leg of his three-day visit to the mainly Muslim nation.
Following in the footsteps of Pope Benedict XVI who visited Turkey in 2006, Francis prayed alongside the Grand Mufti of Istanbul, Rahmi Yaram, who had his palms turned toward the sky in a Muslim prayer inside the 17th-century Sultan Ahmet mosque. “May God accept it,” Yaram told the pope, at the end of the prayer aimed at showing respect for Islam and encouraging interfaith relations.
Earlier, Francis nodded, smiled and looked up in awe as Yaram gave him a tour of the mosque which is famed for its elaborate blue tiles and cascading domes. Benedict had visited Turkey amid heightened Christian-Muslim tensions and prayed at the mosque in a gesture that was appreciated by many Turks. The Vatican added the stop at the Blue Mosque at the last minute to show Benedict’s respect for Muslims… see more