The fraternal visit to the Holy Land by the Dutch Provincial Minister, Brother Jan van den Eijnden ofm | Custodia Terrae Sanctae

The fraternal visit to the Holy Land by the Dutch Provincial Minister, Brother Jan van den Eijnden ofm

Jerusalem, 7th - 13th November 2011

Brother Jan van den Eijnden ofm, Dutch Provincial Minister, is on a visit to the Holy Land where for the first time he has the opportunity to go to the Holy Places, experience the special condition of this land and get to know the Custody of the Holy Land and its invaluable activity. “It is essentially a fraternal visit,” Brother Jan specified, “during which I am the guest of Brother Louis Bohte, who has lived in Bethlehem for many years and who, like me, belongs to the Dutch province of the Holy Martyrs of Gorkum. Together with Brother Louis, who knows the local situation very well, I have the chance not only to visit the most important historical and religious sites for our Christian faith, but also to get closer to the people and come into contact with their daily lives, their problems and their hopes.”

On the one hand, this deep experience helps understand better and more realistically a very complex situation, of which television and the press often offer partial or superficial interpretations and, on the other, it brings up new questions and new uncertainties, which cannot find answers immediately but stimulate greater reflection and a more assiduous pursuit of the meaning of things. Whilst travelling up and down this land and observing everything that happens here, Brother Jan explains, you really become aware of how deeply people are marked by the weight of a difficult history and a present that is still pained and unsolved. Brother Louis, thanks also to his experience as President of the Commission for Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation, accompanies the Minister on this fascinating journey which is also an interior voyage.

During his visit, Brother Jan has also been able to meet the Custos, Brother Pierbattista Pizzaballa. “The role of the Franciscans in the preservation and in the liturgical animation of many Holy Places is of fundamental importance,” the Dutch Minister goes on, “and the figure of the Custos has great authoritativeness in this context and in the Church.” Through the liturgical service offered by the Franciscans, the very many pilgrims who come to the Holy Land are helped and guided so that they can experience and enjoy the extraordinary places they visit to the full. Alongside this fundamental liturgical and pastoral work, the Franciscan friars of the Holy Land carry out many other initiatives, including academic and scientific activities, work in education and schools, culture, social promotion and integration, ecumenical activities and those aimed at encouraging dialogue, all supported by specific and consolidated institutions.

We hope that this first visit will allow Brother Jan to begin to understand and love this multifaceted world, full of potential and contradictions, cherishing its immense value and mystery in his heart until he has another opportunity to visit it in the not too distant future.

by Caterina Foppa Pedretti