On this day in 1986 Pope Saint John Paul II took a historic step when he, as the first pope in history, officially visited a Jewish synagogue. He visited the Great Synagogue of Rome, where he was welcomed by Chief Rabbi of Rome Elio Toaff. On that occasion the Pope called the Jews “our elder brothers”. Pope Saint John Paul II was also the first pope in history to officially visit a Muslim mosque.
It is interesting that Karol Wojtyla, during his youth, witnessed the Holocaust in his native Poland with his own eyes. Towards the end of the war he even rescued a 13-year-old Jewish girl. Saint John Paul II personally visited Israel. Pope Benedict XVI also went to Israel and even visited Jewish synagogues three times, and publicly issued statements against anti-Semitism. The current Pope Francis is also known as an opponent of anti-Semitism, which was evident back in the time before he became pope.