Pope Francis prays alongside Turkey's Islamic leader in one of Istanbul's most famous mosques

Historic meeting of Christian and Muslim faiths comes on second day of Catholic leader's state visit to Turkey

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The Independent Online

Pope Francis prayed alongside the Grand Mufti of Istanbul inside one of the city’s most important mosques, in a poignant moment of Christian –Muslim understanding.

On the second day of the Pope’s three day state trip to Turkey, the head of the Catholic church prayed alongside the Islamic leader Rahmi Yaran inside the 17th-century Sultan Ahmet mosque.

“May God accept it," Yaran told the pope as they finished praying, with Vatican spokesperson Reverend Federico Lombardi called it a moment of "silent adoration".

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Pope Francis inside the Blue Mosque

Later the Islamic leader told reporters he had prayed Pope Francis’ visit would "contribute to the world getting along well and living in peace".

"We are in need of prayers. The world really needs prayers," Yaran said.

The pope is reported to have listened intently to a translator, smiling as he was shown the cascading domes and blue tiles that give the mosque its name.

The religious leader was later presented with a blue, tulip-designed tile.

 

His visit has been well received by many Turks, with the Vatican taking care to avoid any mention of controversy.

After visiting the Blue Mosque the pope walked through the crowds to near Hagia Sophia, previously a Christian place of worship then an Islamic one following the Muslim conquest of the city in 1453. It is now a museum.

In 1967 Pope Paul VI, who made the first papal visit to Turkey, fell to his knees inside the building, provoking widespread anger from Muslim communities.

Pope Francis appeared far more at ease today than yesterday. The frugal pope was notably discomforted by the pomp and ceremony that greeted his arrival.

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