The Franciscans celebrate the feast-day of Corpus Christi at the Cenacle on Mount Zion

The Franciscans celebrate the feast-day of Corpus Christi at the Cenacle on Mount Zion

The solemnity of Corpus Christi was celebrated by the Franciscans on the afternoon of Sunday 2 June at the convent of St. Francis Ad Coenaculum on Mount Zion, near the place where the Lord himself, during the Last Supper with the apostle, established the Eucharist.

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

Near the Cenacle

There is only a distance of a few yards from this small plot of land to the Cenacle and it is precisely the extreme vicinity to the place where the Last Supper was held that makes the mass at the convent of St. Francis Ad Coenaculum which closes the feast-day of Corpus Christi in Jerusalem, so particular.

The Custody of the Holy Land built its main seat at the Cenacle at the time of its foundation in 1333. The official title of the Custos of the Holy Land is still today “Guardian of Mount Zion and of the Holy Sepulchre”, due to the great importance of both places.

The story of the “Cenacolino”

The Friars Minor lived in the convent of St Francis Ad Coenaculum on Mount Zion from the 14th to the 16th centuries, when they were chased out by the Ottomans. However, to keep a presence on Mount Zion, in 1936 they decided to live in a house not far from the Cenacle, which became the convent of St Francis Ad Coenaculum (known as the Cenacolino).

On 21 October 2014 the restoration of the  convent of St. Francis was inaugurated, with the creation of a chapel dedicated to the Holy Spirit and the new garden where pilgrims can rest.

The luminous stained glass windows of the church are inspired by various scenes from the Gospels: washing the feet, the apparition to the disciples, Mary and the apostles, Pentecost and Peter’s speech. The stained glass window of the door that opens into the garden illustrates the Baptism, while the one towards the Convent portrays the Eucharist.

Without a community there is no Eucharist

“This year’s readings,” said the Custos in his homily   (you can read the full text here) make us understand a series of connections which can enrich our participation in the weekly Eucharist. Insisting on the topic of the alliance expresses its community value: without a community there is no Eucharist, without the Eucharist we do not build communities.”

Another topic on which fra Patton dwelt was the importance of the dimension of the family in the Eucharistic celebration of the Church: “Our Eucharistic celebrations do not have as a model the sacrifice of the Temple but the Last Supper, which did anticipate the sacrifice on the cross, but with all the richness of humanity, of familiarity and of personal contact that can only be obtained around a table. Francis of Assisi, in front of the mystery of the Eucharist, exulted with joy and invited us to exalt and adore the mystery of the humility of God that in the Eucharist appears in a sublime way. Let us learn as well how to live in the way of the Eucharist, that is to make our life a song of thanksgiving and our person a gift to God and our brothers.”

After the celebration, the procession with the Most Blessed Sacrament touched on the most significant places of the Cenacolino.  Lastly, refreshments allowed everyone present to enjoy the beauty of the garden.

Silvia Giuliano