Heirs of Peter, the feast-day of the apostle in Jaffa

Heirs of Peter, the feast-day of the apostle in Jaffa

The solemnity of the apostle Peter was celebrated on 29 June in Jaffa (Tel Aviv) in the shrine  dedicated to him. In the afternoon, a concert was given by the Magnificat Institute, the music school of the Custody of the Holy Land. This was followed by a Solemn Mass, presided over by the Custos, fra Francesco Patton.

On the house of “Simon the tanner”

The church of Jaffa stands on the site commemorating the house of “Simon, tanner of hides,” of whom St Peter was a guest for “many days,” the Acts of the Apostles tell us. Biblical-Christian tradition situates several episodes of Peter’s apostolate here, including the resurrection of Tabitha and the vision of the large sheet lowered from heaven. Peter set off from here for Caesarea to baptize the Roman centurion Cornelius, who was the first of the pagans to convert with his whole family.

The celebration

The celebration was animated by the different communities of immigrants who attend this church: Filipinos and Hispanics, but also Hebrew-speaking faithful. In his greetings, the guardian of the Franciscan community, fra Eduardo Sanchez wanted to thank the various communities for their presence, including the Polish community and the Arabic-speaking community from the nearby church of St Anthony, which was given a warm applause. 

The sheet and Tabitha

In his homily, the Custos lingered on the two main images of St Peter in the church of Jaffa: the vision of the sheet (altarpiece) and the resurrection of Tabitha (in the first chapel on the left). “The gospel of Jesus is not for a few, but is for the whole of humanity. This,” the Custos added, “is the message of peace that comes to us from the Church. God does not want peoples to hate one another, to refuse one another and to fight, but wants them to be reconciled and become one.” The resurrection of Tabitha shows that “through Peter, the disciples, through the Church, is Jesus who continues to work in history and bring into our lives the beneficial effects of his resurrection.”

Heirs of Peter

The Custos then addressed the faithful present, “heirs of the community that welcomed the apostle Peter, his preaching and the gift that God has given to us through him. Remember,” he exhorted them, “that you are called to continue Peter’s mission, which is a mission of openness: an openness that leads to not remaining prisoners of your ethnic origins and habits and customs but one that leads to appreciating the freedom that Jesus Christ has given us: an openness to life because Jesus resurrected continues to keep alive in us the hope of the resurrection.”

Marinella Bandini