Jerusalem, 17 April, 2012
The Franciscan community of the Custody of the Holy spent the day of Tuesday, April 17th in returning visits to the Christian Orthodox community of Jerusalem, which celebrated Easter on April 15th. In the early morning, led by the Custos, Brother Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Custodial Vicar, Brother Artemio Vitores, and the General Secretary, Brother Silvio De La Fuente, the brothers went in procession through the Old City of Jerusalem to the seats of the various Orthodox families, bringing them Easter wishes and a fraternal greeting on this feast day morning. In this way the friars of the Custody returned the salutations and greetings received from the representatives of these brothers in the Christian faith who visited the Franciscans at Saint Saviour's monastery last week to share the joy of Easter, celebrated by all Catholics.
A very intense day, during which they met with the Greek Orthodox, the Ethiopians, the Copts, and the Syrians in the morning, and the Armenians in the afternoon. Precious moments that expressed a ritual of custom and signs of affection, esteem, and friendship. The visits, held in the most beautiful rooms of each seat, included the formal exchange of greetings through a few brief words spoken by the Custos followed by a reply from the representative of the host community, and continuing with a quiet, friendly moment of fraternal dialogue and the sharing of coffee, liqueur and little sweets.
A tradition that is repeated in the same way from year to year on Christmas and Easter, helping to keep alive the atmosphere of confidence and mutual trust, increase the joy of the feast through fraternal sharing, and to solidify the engagement of all Christians of the Holy Land on the ecumenical path and in the testimony of a single faith. Sincere, concrete gestures that through traditional customs and forms emphasize consciousness of belonging to one single history, the history of Christ, and participating in the single joy of resurrected life, protecting the places in which human salvation was accomplished.
Text by Caterina Foppa Pedretti
Photos by Brother Adelmo Vásquez Diaz