Thousands attend papal mass in Amman
20095102114137734_3.jpgYou know a country is excited about a distinguished visitor to its soil when the visit has its own theme song.
Like a lot of music, it's actually a remix of another tune, namely the chant that you hear in St Peter's Square in Rome when the crowds are calling to Pope Benedict XVI.
It is not far from what you might get at a football stadium, complete with clapping: "BEEEEEEN…EDETTO" (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap-clap!).
In Rome, you just repeat his name, but the Jordanians have added some Italian lyrics to the chorus (Beeeeen….venuto! in Giordaaaaa –niaaaa - welcome to Jordan) and then whole verses in Arabic about his mission of peace and the beauty of their land.
My poor attempts at writing the song' beat may mislead (you had to be there … ), but trust me, it's a catchy tune, especially when sung by 20,000 people all waiting to see their pope celebrate the first public mass of his trip to the Holy Land.
With this chanting, and under a strengthening spring sun, it felt like the Stadium of Amman was about to host a rock concert, not a religious service by the leader of the Roman Catholic Church.
The Stadium was around three quarters full (in the days of Pope John Paul II there would have been queues around the block), but there was no denying the enthusiasm of the congregation.
Their joy was palpable when they caught a glimpse of the "PopeMobile" as it entered the stadium, taking the long way to the altar, so the pope could see and be seen close up by as many people as possible.
Judging by the flags they were carrying, the faithful were from all over the Middle East and beyond - Lebanese, Syrian, Palestinian, Iraqi, with the odd flag from France, Argentina and even Sri Lanka.
Some, like the Lebanese, had travelled especially to see the pope. But most of the Iraqis and Palestinians have long called Jordan home, driven out of their own countries by conflict.
The service was in Latin - the ancient language of Catholicism - and Arabic. The pop theme tune replaced by sung prayers accompanied by a full orchestra.
Respect and affection
Benedict XVI is often criticised for lacking the populist appeal of his predecessor.
Indeed, some of the children who were there to receive their First Communion (the first time they can fully participate in Mass) looked bored and restless during the two-hour service.
But the thousands of adult followers who had come to watch the pope celebrate Sunday Mass looked at their spiritual leader with respect and affection.
The rain which had been forecast over Amman for Sunday morning never came.
The pope leaves Jordan knowing he has difficult days ahead in Israel and the Palestinian territories.
But he has also been reminded that his presence in the Middle East is valued by thousands of his followers.