“Christos Anesti!”: The Franciscan greetings to the Oriental Churches

“Christos Anesti!”: The Franciscan greetings to the Oriental Churches

The Custody community returns Easter greetings with the traditional visit to the Orthodox Patriarchates.

On Tuesday 7 May, the friars of the Custody of the Holy Land, led by the Vicar of the Custody Fra Ibrahim Faltas, made the traditional visits to the Patriarchs of the Orthodox Churches which celebrated Easter two days ago, on 5 May, following the Julian calendar.

These events are invaluable occasions for the representatives of the Churches to meet and exchange greetings in a climate of fraternity which makes the bonds of affection between the different Christian communities in Jerusalem visible.

During the meetings, great regret and concern emerged for the war that continues to devastate the Holy Land, for the communities of Gaza and for the dramatic situation in the West Bank, affected by the absence of pilgrims and the difficulties related to the conflict.

The greetings to the friars by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch

The first to welcome the Franciscans was His Beatitude Theophilos III, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem.

«Beatitude Theophilos III and dear brothers, it is a great joy for us to be here today, exchanging your fraternal visit and your wishes for Easter,” Fra Ibrahim Faltas began. “We hope and pray that the message of reconciliation and peace that Easter brings us reaches deep into the hearts of all the men and women in this Holy City, this country, the Middle East and the whole world, at this difficult time in history. Never as in the past few months have we seen hatred spread and the scythe of death sweep down without pity.”

Patriarch Theophilos III, in thanking the Franciscans, wanted to recall the “common mission” of restoring the floor of the church of the Holy Sepulchre, the place of the real crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. “If the work is going ahead according to plan,” His Beatitude insisted, “this was made possible due to the close bond that unites us, and thanks to the respect and the trust between our communities: only in this synergy is it possible to work together.”

The warm welcome at the Syriac Patriarchate 

In the streets of the Old Coty, the kawas of the Custody of the Holy Land then guided the friars in procession to the nearby Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate where the bishop Jakub Jack was waiting for them.

After having greeted all those present, Fra Faltas stressed “ our particular closeness and friendship that binds us to your community. We continue to keep in our prayers  all our brothers and sisters who are suffering because of the violence and war, in Gaza, in the West Bank, in Syria, in Iraq and in many other countries.”

At the Coptic and Ethiopian Patriarchates

In the second part of the morning, the friars were welcomed at the Coptic Patriarchate,  near the IX station of the Via Dolorosa, where the Vicar expressed Easter wishes to the Archbishop Antonious, quoting the "Urbi et Orbi" Easter message in which Pope Francis wanted to remember in particular the Holy Land, which is suffering for the war and cried out to the world: “Let us not allow the current hostilities to continue to have grave repercussions on the civil population, by now at the limit of its endurance, and above all on the children. Let us not yield to the logic of weapons and rearming. Peace is never made with arms, but with outstretched hands and open hearts.”

Lastly, at the Ethiopian Orthodox convent, the friars were received by the Archbishop Abune Enbakom. Fra Faltas offered Easter greetings to the Ethiopian brothers and exhorted them to join in conveying the message of Easter hope to all the Christians who are in difficulty, in Jerusalem and in the world.

Visit to the Armenian Patriarchate

On Wednesday 8th May it was time to visit the Armenian Patriarchate and its representative, Armenian Patriarch Nourhan Manougian.

Silvia Giuliano