Jerusalem, 7 July, 2012
In Jerusalem, the garden for contemplation... The Hermitage of Gethsemane has completed its first 25 years.
On Saturday July 7th at 5:00 p.m., the chapel of the Hermitage saw the celebration of the 25th anniversary of this garden that Brother Giorgio Colombini wrenched out of decay to create a place of prayer. The initiative of Brother Diego Dalla Cassa, director of the Hermitage, became a special occasion to remember and thank all those who have labored here.
Vocations, prophecy: The burning bush, Gethsemane, the voice that still cries out today.
Such were the themes addressed by the Custos of the Holy Land, Brother Pierbattista Pizzaballa, during the encounter.
Twenty-five years ago, Brother Giorgio Colombini, who passed away in May 2009, had the idea to turn this site into a place where people could pray.
A response to Jesus' invitation: "Stay here and watch with me." (Mt 26:38)
Restored to the Holy City, its sublime identity, the site of the highest supplication to God, it came to him from a friend, Don Gianni Tomasi from Trent, who here in Jerusalem, at Gethsemane, conceived the idea of a garden.
Out of stables and dilapidated houses, then being used as storerooms, Brother Giorgio and the volunteers from Trent made some fifteen hermitages rooms with kitchen, bath and a bed where people can retire to meditate, which today have come to be called the Hermitage of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, adjoining the modern Basilica of Gethsemane.
A place of peace, a place surrounded by desert, where one can reap the benefits of silence; a place in the midst of olive trees and plants… the view of the Kedron Valley, and the view of Jerusalem surrounded by its wall… a place where one can live the silence of the Word and the Word of silence, live the already but not yet…
Since 1987 and still today, over 6000 pilgrims have passed through, never ceasing the continuous search to live this powerful experience of prayer with the Franciscan fraternity, which has become an obligatory stop.
The Father Custos, concluding his talk, saying, "Lectio Divina: that is what the Hermitage should be. The opportunity to watch and wait with Him, the possibility of rediscovering this gift. Let us make that of this place that is even more than a gift. It is a grace.”
At the end of the Lectio Divina there was the final blessing followed by outdoor refreshments in the garden.