The visit of Pope Francis

Vocations “come and follow me”

The visit of Pope Francis in the Holy Land

«In this basilica, to which each and every Christian looks with profound veneration, the pilgrimage which I am undertaking together with my beloved brother in Christ, His Holiness Bartholomew, reaches its climax. It is an extraordinary grace to be here united in prayer. The empty Tomb is the place from where each year the good news of the Resurrection departs: «Do not be frightened! I know you are looking for Jesus, the crucified. He is not here. He is risen, as he had promised; come, see the place where he was laid. Hurry, and go to tell his disciples: ‘He is risen from the dead’» (Mt 28:5-7). This good news, confirmed by the witness of those to whom the Risen Lord appeared, is the heart of the Christian message, faithfully transmitted from one generation to another. It is the basis of the faith that binds us together, thanks to which we can together profess that Jesus Christ is only begotten Son of the Father and our only Lord.»

These are the words of the Pope during the meeting at the Holy Sepulchre.

Pope Francis had announced his visit in the Holy Land during the Angelus of 5 January 2014: “In the climate of joy, typical of this Christmas season, I wish to announce that from 24 to 26 May, God willing, I will go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land to commemorate the historical meeting between Pope Paul VI and Patriarch Athenagoras I, which occurred exactly on 5 January of 50 years ago. The places I intend to visit are three: Amman, Bethlehem, Jerusalem. Three days. At the Holy Sepulchre we will celebrate an ecumenical meeting with all the representatives of the Christian Churches of Jerusalem, together with Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.»

Children are a dream also today

Bethlehem, 25 May 2014

«The Child Jesus, born in Bethlehem, is the sign that God gave to all those who awaited salvation. Today also, children are a sign. They are a sign of hope, a sign of life, but also a sign which helps us interpret and understand the state of health of a family, of a society, of the entire world. God repeats this sign also to us, men and women of the XXI century: «This for you will be a sign», look for a child...
Pope Francis precisely gave time and listened to Palestinian children, before leaving Bethlehem and Palestine. In the refugee camp of Dheisheh, the Pope met one hundred children, teaching them with some simple words how they can defuse hatred and violence and restart always anew in life: «Never think that the past determines your life. Look ahead always, work in order to acquire what you want. Violence is never won over by violence. Violence is won over by peace, by work, by dignity. I pray to God that He may bless you and I ask you to pray for me.

Ecumenical Celebration at the Holy Sepulchre

Jerusalem, 25 May 2014

In the same way in which, 50 years ago, Paul VI and Athenagoras embraced on the Mount of Olives, so Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew met in the most significant place for every Christian: the Holy Sepulchre.

«It is with a sense of fear, emotion and respect – affirmed the Patriarch of Constantinople – that we are gathered here in front of “the place where the Lord lay”, the life-giving tomb from which life itself arose. We give thanks to the merciful God, who has made us worthy, we who are His unworthy servants, to receive the supreme blessing to become pilgrims in the place in which the mystery of salvation of the world has been revealed. This holy tomb invites us to stay away from another fear which is maybe more widespread in our modern era, namely, the fear of the other, of the one who is different from me, the fear from whoever adheres to another faith, to another religion, or to another confession. In front of this situation, the message that comes out of the tomb and which gives life is urgent and clear: to love the other, the other with his differences, the other who follows other faiths or confessions.»

The Pope declared: «Celebrating fifty years from the embrace of those two venerable Fathers, we recognise with gratitude and renewed sense of surprise how it was possible, under the driving force of the Holy Spirit, to make such important steps towards unity. We should continue to believe that, as the stone which covered the entrance to the tomb was rolled away, so all the obstacles which still hinder full communion between us can be placed aside. It will be a grace of resurrection, of which we can already have a taste today. Each time we ask for forgiveness to one another for the sins committed against other Christians, and each time we have the courage to give and to receive this forgiveness, we are making an experience of resurrection!»

The loving embrace of Jerusalem, in the sign of Pope Montini and Athenagoras, is now destined to touch the hearts of believers in the entire world.

Surprise visit in the convent of Saint Saviour

Jerusalem, 25 May 2014

Pope Francis, changing the official programme, had lunch with the Franciscans at Saint Saviour. No other Pope had done such a thing before, even though Saint Saviour is the central house of all the Franciscans of the Holy Land, and even though the Popes had celebrated in the Sanctuaries falling under the custody of the Sons of St. Francis. It has been a moment of intense joy. The applause of 95 brothers present in the refectory, many of whom are young, were heard in all Jerusalem. The lunch was very simple. We were able to experience the simplicity, the “minority”, as Pope Francis often repeated. In the photos, one can see the love of the Pope for all and also his simplicity and joy. What do you want me to tell you? For me it is as if a great friend as come to visit you. With him joy has also arrived. The Pope’s joy said it all. And I have felt myself more a Franciscan.

Synthesis of the text of Fr. Artemio Vítores, ofm

The Pope in Gethsemane: Who am I in front of my Lord who suffers?

Jerusalem, 26 May 2014

«In that hour, Jesus felt the need to pray and to have his disciples close to him, his friends who had followed him and had shared his mission more closely. But here, in Gethsemane, the following had become difficult and uncertain: doubt overtook the disciples, as well as fatigue and fear. In the inevitable succeeding moments of the Passion of Jesus, the disciples assumed different attitudes in front of their Master: attitudes of closeness, of physical distance, and of uncertainty. It would be a good thing for us all here, in this place, for us bishops, priests, consecrated persons, seminarians, to ask ourselves: who am I in front of my Lord who suffers? Am I one of those who, when invited by Jesus to watch with him, slept, and instead of praying tried to avoid problems by closing their eyes in front of reality? Or do I recognise myself among those who fled out of fear, abandoning the Master in the most tragic hour of his earthly life? Is there in me a double life, the false attitude of the one who sold him for thirty pieces of silver, who had been called a friend and yet had betrayed Jesus? Do I recognise myself in those who have been weak and have disowned him, like Peter?»

Before leaving Gethsemane, the Pope planted an olive tree in the garden of Gethsemane, as Paul VI had already done before him. It is an olive tree that will continue to narrate in the future centuries the hopes of peace and the witness of faith that Pope Francis wanted to sow with his presence on this earth.

The Pope in the Cenacle: here the Church was born, and it was born to go forth

Jerusalem, 26 May 2014

«It is a great gift that the Lord is giving us, namely that of gathering here in the Cenacle, to celebrate the Eucharist. Here, in this place where Jesus consumed the Last Supper with the Apostles; where, after he rose, he appeared in their midst; where the Holy Spirit came down with power on Mary and the disciples. Here the Church was born, and it was born to go forth. From here it went out, with the broken Bread in it hands, with the wounds of Jesus in its eyes, and with the Spirit of love in its heart.
The Cenacle reminds us of sharing, fraternity, harmony, and peace among ourselves. How much love, how much goodness has come out of the Cenacle! How much charity has issued from this place, as a river from its source, which in the beginning is a small stream, but then widens to become large... All the saints have drawn their richness from here; the great river of holiness of the Church always finds here its origin, its everlasting newness, from the Heart of Christ, from the Eucharist, from his Holy Spirit.
The Cenacle finally reminds us of the birth of the new family, the Church, our holy mother hierarchal Church, built by the Risen Christ. This is the horizon of the Cenacle: the horizon of the Risen Lord and of the Church. From here the Church has gone forth, full of life with the life-giving breath of the Spirit.»

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Events calendar


Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe


Bethlehem: 11.30 Entrance (Custos) - 13.45 Vespers - 14.15 Procession - 15.30 Office & Procession


I Sunday in Advent. Bethlehem: 10.00 Solemn Mass


Vigil of Christmas. Bethlehem: 13.30 Entrance of the Archbishop & I Vespers - 16.00 Procession - 23.30 Office & 00.00 Mass - 1.45 Procession to the Grotto


Nativity of the Lord. Bethlehem (St. Catherine): 10.00 Mass Shepherds' Field (Greek & Catholic): 14.00 Pilgrimage

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