“My dream is that the representatives of the three Churches that own the Holy Sepulchre can one day celebrate together. Jesus Christ died not to see us divided, but to see us as a single body.” Fra Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land, chose “his” Trento (the diocese named in 1964 by Paul VI for a specific “ecumenical vocation”) to give a voice to a hope which in recent years has seen dialogue, relations and trust grow, thanks also to the restoration work on the floor of the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre.
An evening for the Holy Sepulchre
Fra Patton spoke at the evening organized by the Trentino-Alto Adige section of the Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, held at the “Vigilianum” Centre in Trento. The archbishop of Trento, Lauro Tisi, and the archbishop emeritus Luigi Bressan were also present. During the meeting, which was very well attended, the Custos illustrated the work in progress in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. He also thanked all those who are working to support the costs, estimated at a total of over nine million euro.
“I hope that the work we are doing today in the Basilica can be a prelude to the day when we will lift the chalice together,” the Custos added. The work is awe-inspirint: to repair, after a thousand years, the most important place in Christianity, where the scientific, historical and archaeological value seems to give way to an even greater dimension, the ecumenical prophecy.
The whole project was decided by the Greek Orthodox and the Armenian Apostolic Patriarchates and by the Custody of the Holy Land, which has the task of coordinating the work. In the field, the site is directed by scholars and the workforce from La Sapienza University of Rome. It is not only a question of repairing the floor (every stone is removed, restored or, where this is not possible, replaced), but also of renewing the infrastructures: the sewage, the drainage and the electrical wiring. The work continues night and day: the wish is to respect the schedule, still guaranteeing – fra Patton stressed – that the liturgies take place as usual and the faithful can have access to the Basilica.
Raining the floor of the Holy Sepulchre also means physically entering history and – thanks to the archaeological study of the various strata – covering a timespan of two thousand years. From pollen to coins, from other objects to dry stone walls: everything that can be found under the floor of this holy place, thanks also to modern technologies, can tell a story and explain, and in many cases confirm or explain, the indications in the Gospels.
Listening to the Word
Fra Patton’s visit to Trento was also the occasion for the presentation of the book “In ascolto della Parola” (“Listening to the Word”) published by the diocesan weekly “Vita Trentina” with illustrations by Fabio Vettori, who created the well-known “little ants”. The book contains the comments of the Custos on the festive readings of the “Year C” and the preface is by Father Antonio Spadaro.