The Custody of the Holy Land at the 2009 Chapter of the Mats | Custodia Terrae Sanctae

The Custody of the Holy Land at the 2009 Chapter of the Mats

An event of special significance was held for the Franciscan family from 15th to 18th April: the international Chapter of the Mats, a meeting pf almost two thousand friars, to commemorate the eight hundred years since the approval, granted by Pope Innocent III to Francis, of his first rule. With the members from the different Franciscan orders (in addition to the Friars Minor, there were Capuchins, Conventual Franciscans and Third Order Regular Franciscans) we met in Assisi to rekindle the grace of the origins. A series of meetings with highly competent speakers allowed us to reflect on our Franciscan charisma and its perennial topicality. The most appreciated with that with Father Raniero Cantalamessa, who spoke of the three Ps to rediscover (Preaching, Prayer and Poverty), that with our former Minister General, Fr. Giacomo Bini, who invited us not to commemorate only an event in the past but to build up the present going in mission, moving to evangelize, and that with the Poor Clare Sister Angela Emanuela Scandella, on the meaning of the conversion in Francis and Clare. Mention must be made of the warmly applauded speech by the Custos, Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, on the friars’ mission in the Holy Land and on the prospects of peace in this tormented region. A series of commemorative celebrations also helped us to remember the grace granted to Francis and shared by those who follow his example, including the Minister Generals giving a copy of the Rule to all the friars present, in front of the tomb of the Seraphic Father. On the last day we all went to Castelgandolfo for a special audience with the Holy Father Benedict XVI. The Ministers General made a very significant gesture: they professed the observance of the Rule in the hands of the Pope, exactly as Francis did eight centuries ago.

For the Custody of the Holy Land, as well as the Father Custos mentioned above, seven capitular friars were present; our aspirants, who are staying in the Convent of Montefalco, also took part in some of the meetings. as did our theology students, Fr. Jihad and Fr. William, guests of the Convent of Frascati and the novice Fr. Samhar, a guest at the Novitiate of La Verna. It was therefore an opportunity for a get-together with our brothers who, due to the problems in this Middle East of ours, are not physically with us in the Holy Land, but with whom we are linked by a deep spiritual and affectionate bond. For those interested in more details on the programme, the official site of the Chapter is :

Fr. Alessandro Coniglio ofm