To make "the grace of the Holy Places" gush forth
The Holy Places, however much their beauty can be admired, are not just stones.
They are the manifestation, the footprints of the passage of God in this world and the echo of the words of the Lord who spoke to us through prophets and apostles and became “flesh”, a man like us, living in our midst.
They are stones which heard the words and drank the blood of our Saviour. That word of God and that blood that was spilt now have to be collected and preserved because they are part of the life of every Christian.
Listening to the voice that springs from those stones and understanding their message has always been the work of the sons of St. Francis in the Holy Land.
This is what the various Popes mean, when they say that the friars’ mission has been to work so that the Biblical Places become centres of spirituality, each sanctuary preserving and handing on the evangelical message and also nurturing the piety of the faithful.
In 1947, Pius XII told the Franciscans of the Holy Land: “We know that you too, as your predecessors did, work diligently so that in the holy places entrusted to your care, everything possible is done to best satisfy the piety of the faithful.”
The friars have not only been the “guardians” of the stones and of those places in order to preserve their value, but their mission has also been to make them living stones, so that they speak to the heart and to the mind of all those who set off on a pilgrimage in the Holy Land, to be able to see the “simple stones” as “beloved stones” through their faith.
The sons of Francis of Assisi – in the words of John Paul II – have been able to interpret “in a genuinely evangelical way that legitimate desire to look after the places of our Christian roots.”