Saint Saviour's Monastery, Jerusalem, 10 April, 2012
It is the custom on the Easter holidays that representatives of the various Christian communities of Jerusalem visit one another to exchange greetings and enjoy tranquil, convivial moments on these special days, taking the opportunity to give new life and deeper understanding to friendly relationships. On the tenth of April, therefore, the Franciscan friars of the Custody received guests in the common room of Saint Saviour's Monastery to exchange best wishes and pleasant greetings for the Feast of the Resurrection of the Lord that was just celebrated.
In accordance with the detailed protocol for these events, the Custos of the Holy Land, Brother Pierbattista Pizzaballa, together with the Custodial Vicar, Brother Artemio Vitores, the Secretary General, Brother Silvio De La Fuente, and several friars from the local community welcomed the Greek Orthodox early in the morning, followed by the Copts and Syrians mid-morning, the Armenians, and finally the Ethiopians before lunch. In the afternoon followed visits with the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Mgr. Fouad Twal, together with the Melkite representatives.
In a calm, relaxed atmosphere, the friars and their guests enjoyed the traditional liqueurs with sweets and coffee. Sincere good wishes that went beyond institutional courtesy to touch the deep meaning of this feast day that is the heart of Christian experience. A precious occasion every Easter and every Christmas to exchange thanks and greetings, to discover in others' joy a value that enriches one's own, a confirmation of the beauty of being Christian and living as Christians in the Holy Land even amid so many difficulties and uncertainties for the future.
In this case, it was the Franciscans who received the greetings and good wishes for Easter, which the Catholics had just celebrated. In a few days the Custody will return the visits, when it is the Orthodox communities who celebrate the Lord's Resurrection. A formal protocol, but one that maintains cordial relations composed of courtesy, openness and, sometimes, true trust and friendship. Together in Jerusalem, sharing faith and destiny, and love for the Holy Places; concern for the conditions of so many Christian communities in different parts of the Middle East and the world, but also belonging to a single family, Christ's family; and the encouraging certainty of the shared heritage of sons.
Text by Caterina Foppa Pedretti