Fifth Annual Holy Land Festival Celebrated in Washington, D.C.

The Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in Washington, D.C., celebrated its fifth annual Holy Land Festival on Saturday, July 14. The highlight of the day-long festival was a performance by student and faculty musicians from the Magnificat Institute in Jerusalem, who offered a program of instrumental and vocal music in the Monastery church.

As in year’s past, the festival featured a variety of booths where visitors could enjoy authentic Arabic food, purchase handcrafted embroidery, olive wood artifacts, soaps, olive oil and other products from the Holy Land. A local Middle Eastern bookstore brought a selection of books about the history and issues of the region. Visitors could also learn Arabic calligraphy in a hands-on demonstration. During the day, visitors could take tours of the Monastery church—with its replicas of the Holy Land shrines, including Calvary and the Edicule over the Tomb of Christ, and the catacombs of Rome.

Bethlehem University, the Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem, the Holy Land Ecumenical Foundation, Washington’s John Paul II center, and the Secular Franciscan Order Fraternity of the Monastery had information tables, offering literature about their works. The Monastery’s own gift shop and its volunteer Garden Guild (which maintains the agricultural projects of the Monastery) were also represented.

Several special seminars took place during the day. The Bethlehem University Foundation and students from the University offered “Voices from Bethlehem.” Ambassador Michele Bowe from the Order of Malta spoke on “Hope and Partnerships Creating Peace in the Holy Land,” and the Monastery’s own Father Benjamin Owusu, explained the 801-year history of the Franciscans in the Holy Land.

Fr. Greg Friedman OFM, Franciscan Monastery in Washington