First peregrination to Dominus Flevit: the silence of those who suffer

First peregrination to Dominus Flevit: the silence of those who suffer

The Franciscan friars made the first Lenten peregrination to the Franciscan shrine of   Dominus Flevit, on the Mount of Olives, on Wednesday 28 February.

The “peregrinations” are weekly liturgical appointments which take place in the places of the Holy City where the events linked to the Passion of Jesus are evoked. Christians  can thus do a special meditation during Lent through visiting, lingering and praying at  exactly the places connected with the pre-Easter memories.

The Sanctuary of Dominus Flevit

The first stopping place of the peregrinations has traditionally been the shrine of Dominus Flevit. In 1956, the Franciscans decided to completely renovate the place of worship linked to the memory of the evangelical episode in which Christ, seeing Jerusalem, wept over the city and prophesied its destruction (Luke 19, 41-44).

The architect, Barluzzi, decided to adapt the Franciscan chapel to the subject that gives it its name (literally, “the Lord wept”). In the new building, built on a plan of a Greek cross, the domed ceiling is in the particular shape of a drop, recalling a  tear. The visitor is thus immersed in Christ’s weeping, and in the following reproach: “If this day you only knew what makes for peace!» (Luke 19,42). Inside, above the altar, the panorama of Jerusalem can be admired through a window with the chalice of the Last Supper.

The reflections of Lent focused on silence

The homilies of this year’s peregrinations have been assigned to fra Paolo Messina, Guardian of the Convent of the Capuchins in Jerusalem and lecturer in Hebrew at the  Studium Biblicum Franciscanum. Fra Paolo has decided to focus all his homilies on the topic of “silence”: “Silence,” he began, “can be a very powerful language. It can express joy and serenity, but there is also a silence that hides great pain and acute suffering: there is the silence of those who are unjustly condemned and of those who are alone, and it almost becomes a wall that is impenetrable for others and difficult to knock down.”

The silence of those who suffer

During the Eucharistic celebration, presided over by fr. Piermarco Luciano, vicar of the fraternity of St Saviour and concelebrated by the superior of the Shrine, fr. Sebastiano Eclimes, fra Paolo focused his meditation on the silence of those who suffer.

“Jesus raises his eyes on the city of Jerusalem,” fr. Paolo stressed in his homily (you can find the text of the homily in full here ) “and in that period of time the silence of those who suffer finds a space. Perhaps we imagine the brother who suffers in silence as a person who is isolated and solitary, but more often it is the man who is next to me, while I am celebrating. It is my brother and my sister, close to whom I live, distracted. It is the silence that pervades the destroyed towns and cities in Ukraine, or the silence that inhabits the deserted streets of Gaza, which we cannot even imagine because we cannot even see them either.”

“Like Jesus,” fr. Paolo continued, “we are called to listen to this silence with compassion, to the silence of those who are suffering, even at the cost of shedding our tears.  The solidarity that the Gospel teaches us makes us seek out this silence, not to flee from it. It induces us to take care of it and transform it into an opportunity for love and inner healing.”

Silvia Giuliano

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