Pope Benedict XVI is the first pope to be accorded a state visit to Britain, meaning that he was invited by the monarch as the head over another state, the Vatican. However, the queen will not host a banquet for Benedict, as she does for other state visits. Pope John Paul II came to Britain in 1982 on a pastoral visit organized by the church.

——— Britain is the 16th country to be visited by Benedict since he became pope in 2005, the Catholic Media Office says.

——— The Catholic churches of Scotland, England and Wales estimate that the visit will cost them 10 million pounds ($15 million) and the British government estimates it will spend 10 million to 12 million pounds ($15.5 million to $18.6 million) on its part of the arrangements, excluding policing costs.

——— The highlight of the tour takes place in Birmingham in central England, where the pope will formally beatify Cardinal John Henry Newman, one of the most prominent 19th-century converts from the Church of England. Beatification is one step short of being proclaimed a saint.

——— The motto for the visit is "heart speaks unto heart," or "cor ad cor loquitur" if you prefer the Latin. Newman adopted that phrase—from St. Frances de Sales—for his coat of arms when he was created a cardinal in 1879.

——— Benedict's meeting with the queen brings together the heads of two churches as well as two heads of state. Elizabeth is supreme governor of the Church of England, and required by law to be a member.

——— Holyroodhouse Palace, where Benedict is meeting Queen Elizabeth II, was built next to an Augustinian monastery founded in the 12th century. It takes its name from a relic known as the Black Rood of Scotland, said to be a fragment of the cross of Jesus. Ruined, bare walls, a tower and a vaulted aisle are the major remnants of the abbey. The palace in its present form is largely the work of the Scottish kings James IV (who ruled from 1488-1513) and James V (1513-1542).

——— During the visit, a rosary and crucifix said to belong to Mary, Queen of Scots is being displayed. Mary, who reigned from 1542 to 1567, was raised as a Catholic and ruled at a time when Queen Elizabeth I was setting England firmly on a Protestant course. Mary was beheaded in 1587 for allegedly plotting against Elizabeth.