The Celebration of the Feast of St. Francis in Jerusalem | Custodia Terrae Sanctae

The Celebration of the Feast of St. Francis in Jerusalem


A ray of sunlight is enough to wipe away many shadows. (St. Francis)

Throughout the world, the Franciscan family celebrated their Seraphic Father. This Feast is dear to every Christian.
Here in Jerusalem, the celebrations began on October 3, in the Church of St. Saviour, with Solemn First Vespers, presided by the Custos, Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa.

A number of friars, from different countries, renewed their Vows, into the hands of the Custos, expressing their desire to live the Gospel, following the example of St. Francis.
Vespers included the ceremony called Transitus, the passing of Francis from this earthly life to Eternal Life. Those present listened to the readings of the death of the Saint. Then, illuminated only by candlelight, the Custos and friars in the sanctuary processed to the side altar to venerate the relic of the Saint. The book of the Rule of the Friars Minor was also visible near the relic.

In his homily, the Custos focused on the short verse of the call of Abraham, “Abram went as the LORD directed him…” (Gen 12:4). It is the beginning of the story of Abraham, a journey that encompasses his vocation – the promise, the blessing, the alliance – everything, like a seed.
The Custos addressed his message to the friars, who had renewed their Vows, the invitation to renew this act of faith: “[The act of faith] of Abraham, that he leave everything in order to find a home in the promise of God by belonging to Him. With the practical consequences that this entails, namely, to walk the path that leads to a rich and fruitful life, like that of Abraham, the seed must die. This is what you do to follow Jesus into Easter. This is a journey that lasts a lifetime: today begins with the only foundation that has meaning, that is, to belong to Him.”
The celebration ended with the devotion of kissing the relic of the Saint by the faithful.

On October 4, Solemn Mass was celebrated in the Church of St. Saviour and attended by all the faithful. According to tradition, the Dominican Prior, Fr. Guy Tardivy, celebrated the Mass, which was concelebrated by the Custos, Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa and the Vicar, Fr. Artemio Vitores.
Bishops in attendance included His Excellency William Shomali, Bishop Mousa El Haj, Bishop Joseph Zreiei, and Bishop Joseph Kelekian. Also in attendance were civil authorities, government and consular representatives.
In his homily, the Dominican Fr. Kevin emphasized the humility of St. Francis, qualities that made him famous and an example to be followed, remembering the gift of the stigmata imprinted on his body as a reward received shortly before his death.
Before the final blessing, the Custos thanked all those present, and invited each to pray for the Christians of Syria, where the situation is very serious.

The Vicar, Fr. Artemio, presided over Second Vespers, concluding the day of celebration.