Photograph at Pope Benedict at Ground Zero by Kathy Willens/AP

Pope Benedict XVI visited Ground Zero this morning, asking for "eternal light and peace to all who died here," with an audience of dignitaries and two dozen survivors, victims' family members, and rescue workers from the September 11 attacks. He lit a candle, blessed the site, and prayed. Here is an excerpt of his blessing:

We ask you, in your compassion
to bring healing to those
who, because of their presence here that day,
suffer from injuries and illness.
Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families
and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy.
Give them strength to continue their lives with courage and hope.

We are mindful as well
of those who suffered death, injury, and loss
on the same day at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Our hearts are one with theirs
as our prayer embraces their pain and suffering.


God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world:
peace in the hearts of all men and women
and peace among the nations of the earth.
Turn to your way of love
those whose hearts and minds
are consumed with hatred.

The entire blessing is after the jump. Firefighter Jim Riches, whose firefighter son died on September 11, told NY1, "My faith was lacking after that. I was very hurt and couldn't believe it happened to me and here we have the pope coming here to honor my son and all the other people that died that day, and that's a great honor, and we are very proud."

The Pope was driven from his residence on East 72nd Street to Ground Zero, where he entered the Popemobile under a bulletproof white tent. From the tent, he took the Popemobile down the ramp, met Mayor Bloomberg, NY Governor David Paterson and NJ Governor Jon Corzine, and then walked to an altar and a pool of water. After the prayer, he took the Popemobile back up to the tent and headed uptown to get ready for the mass at Yankee Stadium (which is being broadcast on local news stations on online--the mass will begin at 2:30 p.m.).

Pope Benedict XVI's Ground Zero Blessing:

O God of love, compassion, and healing,
look on us, people of many different faiths and traditions,
who gather today at this site,
the scene of incredible violence and pain.

We ask you in your goodness
to give eternal light and peace
to all who died here --
the heroic first-responders:
our fire fighters, police officers,
emergency service workers, and Port Authority personnel,
along with all the innocent men and women
who were victims of this tragedy
simply because their work or service
brought them here on September 11, 2001.


We ask you, in your compassion
to bring healing to those
who, because of their presence here that day,
suffer from injuries and illness.
Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families
and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy.
Give them strength to continue their lives with courage and hope.

We are mindful as well
of those who suffered death, injury, and loss
on the same day at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Our hearts are one with theirs
as our prayer embraces their pain and suffering.


God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world:
peace in the hearts of all men and women
and peace among the nations of the earth.
Turn to your way of love
those whose hearts and minds
are consumed with hatred.


God of understanding,
overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy,
we seek your light and guidance
as we confront such terrible events.
Grant that those whose lives were spared
may live so that the lives lost here
may not have been lost in vain.
Comfort and console us,
strengthen us in hope,
and give us the wisdom and courage
to work tirelessly for a world
where true peace and love reign
among nations and in the hearts of all.