Chanting the Passion of the Lord: Solemn Mass of Holy Tuesday at the Flagellation | Custodia Terrae Sanctae

Chanting the Passion of the Lord: Solemn Mass of Holy Tuesday at the Flagellation

Jerusalem, Church of the Flagellation, 3 March, 2012

Holy Week celebrations continue in Jerusalem, where Christians relive the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord in the very places where it all happened more than two thousand years ago. The commemoration takes place in a particularly intense and recollected atmosphere, recalling the last, dramatic days of Jesus' life up to his extreme sacrifice on the Cross and his glorious resurrection that will bathe the entire world in the light and hope of new life in God.

The occasions come more densely beginning on Holy Thursday, with Holy Mass in memory of the Last Supper of the Lord, the rite of the washing of the feet, and the Holy Hour at Gethsemane, but already in this first part of the week, we mark important moments that help us penetrate ever more deeply into the mysteries that the Christian community is preparing to celebrate.

In the traditional manner, at 7:30 in the morning of Holy Tuesday in the Sanctuary of the Flagellation, annexed to the Franciscan convent at the beginning of the Via Dolorosa in the Old City of Jerusalem, a Solemn Mass was celebrated, during which the "Passio Christi" was chanted from the gospel narratives. On four occasions - Palm Sunday, Holy Tuesday and Wednesday, and Good Friday - the texts of the four evangelists retrace the tragic moments that closed Jesus' life on earth. The assembled faithful listen, participate and are moved by the three readers who each time animate the proclamation of the Gospel. Tuesday’s Holy Mass was celebrated by Brother Artemio Vitores, Custodial Vicar, with Brother Najib Ibrahim, guardian of the Flagellation and Professor of New Testament Exegesis at the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, at the same location, as the principal concelebrant. There was large participation of the Franciscan community of the Custody of the Holy Land and many concelebrating priests. The faithful, male and female religious and consecrated laypeople of various communities, but also coworkers and volunteers who are spending time in these places, along with a small group of pilgrims who want to experience Easter in the land of Jesus, completely filled the chapel, and also found places outside the Sanctuary on the benches placed neatly in the courtyard in front of the entrance to the church.

Here Jesus appeared before Pontius Pilate; here he was judged, condemned to death and burdened with the cross. Here is the beginning of the Way of the Cross that the Franciscans repeat every Friday afternoon and that groups of pilgrims from all over the world retrace, united in one sole faith. The Passion of Christ challenges us here in a special way, the events of those days that changed the face of human history strongly engage us and call every Christian, especially during this week, to turn our hearts to the Holy Land, to enter into communion with Jerusalem, to discover the mystery here that renews the profound sense of Christian faith.

Text by Caterina Foppa Pedretti
Photos by Marie-Armelle Beaulieu