The Pope delivers his sermon on the Mount

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She had streaked her black hair yellow to match the Vatican flag fluttering from her fist. She had a yellow scarf, yellow clothes. Tahany Tatour was the image of a Catholic pilgrim, like 80,000 others who flocked to Israel's Mount of Beatitudes for mass with the Pope.

She had streaked her black hair yellow to match the Vatican flag fluttering from her fist. She had a yellow scarf, yellow clothes. Tahany Tatour was the image of a Catholic pilgrim, like 80,000 others who flocked to Israel's Mount of Beatitudes for mass with the Pope.

Which is odd. For Ms Tatour, 17, is a Muslim Arab from Nazareth. "Religious differences make no difference to me - I am just pleased to see him," she said, beaming with excitement as crowds streamed into a muddy clearing on the northern edge of the Sea of Galilee.

This is where Jesus is said to have delivered the Sermon on the Mount, the speech about the meek inheriting the earth. Yesterday the multitides returned to the mountain, a sea of devout pilgrims clad in brightly coloured baseball caps, to watch a made-for-TV Vatican roadshow in the which the pontiff played superstar.

They came from all over - Hungary, Mexico, Guatemala, Korea, Poland, Italy, Spain, Ireland, and Britain. "When you get here, it's like arriving in heaven," said Greg Singh, 32, from Brixton, south London.

Many of the pilgrims had been up most of the night, and walked for an hour to reach the arena. "It is great to be here, just to see him," said Marina Lotti, from Brussels, Belgium, "I believe history will call him Pope John Paul the Great."

For once the conflicts were largely forgotten. Only the ubiquitous flags betrayed the pulse of politics. Thousands of West Bank Palestinians flew their red, green and black national flag. And on the rocky Galilee hillside lay a large banner which read "Shalom - from the Golan, Israel", a barbed reminder that there are some who do not yet wish to end the 33-year-old conflict with Syria over the mist-covered plateau on the other side of the lake.

For Israel, however, yesterday was a climactic moment in the pontiff's difficult six-day trip. For once, it could enjoy uncritical attention, as the world watched the country's biggest ever Christian festival in the biblical heartland.

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