Jews and Christians, in the name of St. John the Baptist | Custodia Terrae Sanctae

Jews and Christians, in the name of St. John the Baptist

Dear friends,

Today, for the second consecutive year, we are gathered together, Jewish and Christian members of the local community, to celebrate the feast of the most important son of Ein Kerem, namely, St. John the Baptist.

I personally, on behalf of the friars of the Custody of the Holy Land, am happy to welcome you all on this event. In fraternal unity with my confreres, I support this initiative, that is a significant occasion to create bridges, mutual respect and friendship between the Church and the local Jewish community. Brotherhood and welcoming and sharing are part of the franciscan spirituality, and it is something that we learned from our common background and roots, that is, what the Lord has revealed to Abraham, to Moses, to the Prophets.

The feast of St. John the Baptist is a good occasion for us to open the doors of our monastery and of our Church, and it is an occasion for you to visit this beautiful place in which we are living, preserving the memory of this special young man who was the son of Zachariah and Elisabeth. Using the words of the old priest Zachariah when the little John the Baptist received his name, we can praise the Lord because He was “mindful of his holy covenant / and of the oath he swore to Abraham our father, / and to grant us that, (…) without fear we might worship Him / in holiness and righteousness / before Him all our days” (Lk 1: 72-75).

On this occasion, I also want to underline that we appreciate and support all the efforts that the local community of Ein Kerem is doing in the preservation of Ein Kerem and its surrounding open spaces. The Sanctuary, the holy spring and the terraced landscape provide to the Christian world a unique experience of beauty and permit to many Christian pilgrims to sing in this wonderful place the song of Zachariah and also the song of Mary, and we are worried by the current threats of intensive development. As Pope Francis wrote in the Encyclical Laudato Si’ (151): «Interventions which affect the urban or rural landscape should take into account how various elements combine to form a whole which is perceived by its inhabitants as a coherent and meaningful framework for their lives. Others will then no longer be seen as strangers, but as part of a “we” which all of us are working to create. For this same reason, in both urban and rural settings, it is helpful to set aside some places which can be preserved and protected from constant changes brought by human intervention».

I do not want to bother you with more words, dear friends. Once again: Welcome, may the Lord bless this meeting, and may this initiative become an annual appointment and a little sign of what we can share and build together, Jews and Christians, in the name of St. John the Baptist.


Fr. Francesco Patton OFM
Custos of the Holy Land