Youth from Lebanon and across the Middle East, who gathered on Saturday in Bkirki to meet with Pope Benedict XVl, stressed that they will hold onto their land.

The gathering was an open-air encounter with what organizers said was more than 15,000 young people in the patriarchate.

Among many chants heard was “Benedict XVI loves you all!”

Many of the youth were wearing caps bearing the pope’s signature message during the trip: “My peace I give to you.”

The pontiff arrived at the venue seated in the popemobile in a joyous atmosphere of of music, song and dance.

The youth stressed in a speech delivered by Rania Abou Shaqra that the youth will hold onto their land, pointing out that they don’t fear the other who is different but extremism.

Abou Shaqra told the pontiff that his “presence in Lebanon is a challenge against war and a sign of peace.”