Students, teachers and staff of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum of Jerusalem (SBF) and of the Studium Theologicum Jerosolimitanum took part in the solemn celebration of the opening of the academic year 2023-2023 on Thursday 5 October in St Saviour’s church in Jerusalem.
The Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, founded on 7 January 1924 at the sanctuary of the Flagellation, is celebrating its centenary during this academic year. For religious, consecrated and laypeople from all over the world, the Studium is a unique place where the Holy Scripture can be studied in depth in the land where it was revealed.
The Holy Mass, concelebrated by the Custos of the Holy Land, fr. Francesco Patton together with fr. Matteo Munari, professor of exegesis at the SBF, was presided over by His Excellency the Most Reverend Mons. Rafic Nahra, Patriarchal Vicar for Israel and Auxiliary Bishop of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. In his homily, Mons. Rafic invited the faithful to interpret the start of the new year in the light of the readings they listened to (the book of Nehemiah and the mission of the 72 disciples in the Gospel according to Luke) and in the light of the solemnity of St Francis, whose feast-day was celebrated yesterday.
“We have just listened to the Gospel which talks about the mission,” said Mons. Rafic. “When I arrived here in the Holy Land in 2004, I had a letter of nomination which said “mission of studies”, and at that time it was not very clear to me how those two terms could stand together. You have to understand that everything we do with the Lord Jesus is a mission: it means that we are sent by Jesus each of us, to a different place, it is he who sends us and guides us in the world. Teachers have the mission of transmitting the intelligence of the faith, but perhaps it would be better to say transmitting the intelligence of life in the light of the faith. For the students, on the other hand, the desire of the mission is important, which is what will give your studies their fullest meaning because only when studying is done with real desire can it then turn us into friends of Jesus.”
At the end of the Mass, all the community present invoked the Blessed Immaculate Virgin Mary, the seat of Wisdom and patron saint of the Franciscan Order, entrusting to her not only the path of research, of teaching and study for the year that is starting, but also the centres of study, the teachers, students and staff.
The invocation to Mary was taken up by fr. Rosario Pierri, dean of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum , who in his final speech stressed how this academic year is “a special year: the SBF started its activity as a centre for studies with the academic year 1923-1924. It has operated non-stop since then, except during the period of the Second World War, until the present.” The Dean then, in recalling the main appointments of the academic year, wanted to share the importance of remembering, “to rethink about the reasons why the SBF was conceived and commemorate the work that this school has been able to do over time and the seed that it has spread in the world with its archaeological and exegetic research and with the formation of generations of scholars of the Holy Scriptures” (the full text of Prof. Pierri is here).