First Lenten pilgrimage to the holy places: Mass at Dominus Flevit

The tradition of celebrating mass in the places where the events of Jesus’ Passion took place dates back to the first centuries of the Christian era. So, every year the Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Land lead the liturgies of these Lenten pilgrimages. The first took place on February 25 in the small church of Dominus Flevit on the slopes of the Mount of Olives.

In front of the friars and a large group of faithful, after vespers, the readings and the Gospel that mention the holy place were proclaimed. During his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus looked at the city from above and predicted its downfall. Dominus Flevit means “the Lord cried,” and in fact, it commemorates the place where Jesus wept over Jerusalem, saying: “If this day you only knew what makes for peace [...] you did not recognize the time of your visitation” (Luke 19: 41-44).

The Dominus Flevit shrine was built by the Italian architect Antonio Barluzzi in 1956 on the remains of a fifth-century Byzantine church. The roof of the church is in the shape of a tear, so as to recall Jesus’ weeping.

After the proclamation of the Gospel that recalls the biblical episode, as per the custom, a professor of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum said the homily. “Jesus’ tears have to do with our present,” said Fr. Luigi Epicoco. “Jesus’ weeping over Jerusalem touches of our current lives.” The city of Jerusalem that wounds Jesus is like the man represented by St. Paul in the second reading: “the man turned in on himself, who thinks about being fulfilled but not happy. Jesus’ crying,” explained Fr. Luigi Epicoco, “is in a certain sense of ‘impotence,’ in seeing Jerusalem’s self-destruction. Sometimes our lives are characterized by self-destruction,” he said, “but the history of Christian salvation begins when we can do nothing more. The impossible can only be fulfilled by Jesus. Jesus does not teach us to save ourselves, but to let ourselves be saved.”

At the conclusion of the mass, Br. Sebastiano Eclimes, the superior of the Dominus Flevit shrine, offered all of the guests a light refreshment in front of the monastery, with the natural beauty of the view of Jerusalem at sunset as the backdrop.

The next pilgrimages for Lent 2018 will take place according to the following schedule:

Wednesday, March 7: Gethsemane, 4 p.m. solemn mass
Wednesday, March 14: Flagellation, 5 p.m. solemn mass
Thursday, March 15: Bethany, 6:30 a.m. mass at the tomb, 7:30 a.m. mass at the church
Wednesday, March 21: Lithostrotos, 5 p.m. solemn mass

Beatrice Guarrera