2 June: the Custody pays tribute to Italy on the day of its national holiday

2 June: the Custody pays tribute to Italy on the day of its national holiday

The Custos of the Holy Land presided over the celebration: “This prayer for the nation, in view of the common good and peace”

On 2 June, the Day of the Republic of Italy, as tradition has it, a Mass was dedicated to Italy in St Saviour’s church in Jerusalem, to stress the deep and historic union which links the Custody of the Holy Land with the Republic. 

The Custody reserves this tribute to three other countries of Catholic tradition, France, Spain and Belgium, for their commitment in the past and present to promoting and protecting the Christian communities in the Holy Land.

The celebration was presided over by the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton.

The members of the Consulate General of Italy in Jerusalem were present

The Consul General, Domenico Bellato, the Deputy Consul General, Alessandro Tutino, the Consul, Camilla Romeo and the head of the Visa Department, Marianna Delle Vedove, were present, together with other members of the civil and military diplomatic personnel of the Italian Consulate General in Jerusalem.

“The prayer for the good of one’s country, as well as for its rulers and for those who are in power is always a prayer in view of the common good and peace,”  the Custos of the Holy Land stressed in his homily  (you can find the full text here), “so that everyone can live with dignity and be able to express their freedom of conscience through the free exercise of their faith.”

Alliance, sacrifice and memory

Fra Patton, drawing inspiration from the readings relative to the solemnity of the day, that is Corpus Christi, gave a lay and civil interpretation of them, offering ideas for reflection on three main points: alliance, sacrifice and memory.

“ ‘Sacrifice’  is a very important word,” the Custos continued. “In the Christian context, we recognize the unique and irreplaceable value of Christ’s sacrifice, but from a civil point of view as well, sacrifice understood as the gift of the self is something essential. Our country will remain a place of freedom, of growth and of realization for people only if our generation can pay the price of the commitment to the common good.”

The bond between the Custody and Italy

In history, the Kingdom of Naples played a key role for the Franciscans of the Holy Land: in 1333 the sovereigns of Naples purchased the place on Mount Sion which tradition recognizes as the Cenacle (the first seat of the Custody) and paid the taxes to enter the Holy Sepulchre so that the Franciscan friars could celebrate the sacred liturgies there. The monarchs of Naples, Robert of Anjou and Sancha of Majorca, considered themselves the sovereigns of Jerusalem, due to their being descendants from Frederick II, who married Yolande of Brenne, heir to the Kingdom of Jerusalem. This led to the need to finance the mission in the Holy Land and for this purpose the Charity of the Holy Land, today the  General Commissariat of the Holy Land .

The Holy Mass came to an end on the notes of the Italian national anthem, performed on the organ of the church, before the usual exchange of greetings between all those present at the Curia of the Custody.

Silvia Giuliano