Pope Benedict XVI started a three-day visit to Lebanon on Friday (September 14th), saying the country could serve as an example to a troubled Middle East.
A crowd of dignitaries, including President Michel Sleiman greeted the pope upon his arrival at Rafik Hariri International Airport.
Addressing the Lebanese people, the Pope said, "The celebrated Lebanese equilibrium which wishes to continue to be a reality will continue through the goodwill and commitment of all Lebanese. Only then will it serve as a model to the inhabitants of the whole region and of the entire world."
The Pope said he came to Lebanon as "a pilgrim of peace".
"I also come symbolically to all the countries of the Middle East [...] whatever their origins and beliefs," he said.
Lebanese security forces were on high alert for the visit, and Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said this week that it "will be one of the most successful visits in the history of modern Lebanon."
The Pope will stay in the mountain town of Harissa, where he will sign the final report on the synod of bishops.
On Saturday, he will meet President Sleiman, Prime Minister Najib Mikati, as well as Muslim religious leaders and the diplomatic corps in Beirut.
On Sunday, he will celebrate an open-air mass at Beirut City Centre Waterfront and unveil the conclusions of the 2010 synod of bishops, before returning to Rome.