The bells of the Basilica of the Resurrection rang out in Jerusalem inviting everyone to a day of prayer for the Holy Land. The celebration held at the Wayside Shrine of the Holy Sepulchre is rich in meaning.
In addition to Br. Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land, the friars of the Discretorium and H.E. Mgr. Leopoldo Girelli, Apostolic Delegate for Jerusalem, were present to thank the Lord for the sixth centenary of the establishment of the Commissariats of the Holy Land, which took place on February 14, 1421 by Pope Martin V with the Bull "His quae pro ecclesiasticarum".
In the words of Br. Francesco Patton, in addition to gratitude for the service of the Commissioners, there was also gratitude for the various Pontiffs who have always encouraged the mission since the time of St. Francis. Also today, thanks to Pope Francis and to Cardinal Sandri, Prefect for the Congregation of the Oriental Churches.
"This place is the first that has been entrusted to us: our presence as custos, however, is also the presence of those who live and nourish the original and fundamental witness of the entire Church, which is the proclamation that "Jesus, the Crucified One, is Risen as He foretold". We wish, on this occasion, to pray with faith - continued the Custos - also for all the benefactors and the faithful who in every part of the world are responsive to the needs of the Holy Land. We also pray for the cessation of the pandemic."
At the end of the celebration, Brother Marcelo Cichinelli, Head of the Coordination Office of the Commissaries of the Holy Land, read the text of Cardinal Sandri's message. Those present were shown the Bull of Pope Martin V "His quae pro ecclesiasticarum".
It was H.E. Mgr. Girelli who read the handwritten letter sent by Pope Francis to the Custos: "After all these centuries, the mission of the Commissaries is always relevant: to support, promote, enhance the mission of the Custody of the Holy Land by making possible a network of ecclesial, spiritual and charitable relationships that have as their focal point the land where Jesus lived. I support and bless this precious service and hope that it may increasingly be a seed of fraternity."
Cardinal Sandri, in his writing, wished to recall his presence, in 2018, at the IV Congress of Commissioners held in Jerusalem: "The Holy Places, by virtue of the privilege of being the setting of the Salvific Mysteries have always been the main concerns of the Popes throughout history. Your work is closely connected with the identity of every Christian, regardless of place of origin or residence.
I renew my gratitude for your valuable service and encourage you to continue without ever tiring of doing good. Make yourselves the living voice of the Holy Father to all those who continue the work begun by the Apostle Paul and allow the realization of the mission entrusted by the Lord and confirmed by the Successors of Peter to the Poor Man of Assisi and his sons."
Brother Michael Perry, Minister General of the Friars Minor, also expressed his gratitude for what is considered the "Pearl of the Franciscan Missions."
"Our main role in the Holy Land is to proclaim the living and loving presence of Jesus Christ. It is important to point out that this mission has been renewed several times by different Popes, but what is even more important is to remember that the Places always have something to say to all humanity. I recommend to everyone, men and women who collaborate with the Commissioners to be oases of prayer, hope and fraternity."
BR MICHAEL PERRY, ofm
Minister General Friars Minor
"I thank again all the friars serving in the Commissariats and all the friars serving in the Holy Land. Know that you are not alone. The whole Order is present and prays with you. We are together and Christ is present. Let us thank God even at this difficult time for his love and his presence in our lives and in our world."
Br FRANCESCO PATTON, ofm
Custos of the Holy Land
"Certainly from this Holy Place, which is the most important, the holiest for all of us Christians, there also comes the blessing of the Lord, the blessing of the Easter message that the Risen Christ is stronger than both our sin and death, and the Risen Christ is the One who gives us hope, helps us to look ahead and is the One who urges us to become witnesses of this newness, the only true newness in history, which is the newness brought by Him."