“Like many dioceses and communities all over the world, we too have answered the call to fast and pray proposed by the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land,” explains fr. Wojciech Bołoz, Guardian and Rector of the Basilica of the Annunciation and Sanctuary of the Holy Family in Nazaret.
The Marian sanctuary most visited and best loved by Christians - as all the Franciscan communities in the Holy Land -, has always stayed open, even though there are few pilgrims to be seen. “When this new and atrocious conflict started in the south of Israel, the tour agencies diverted all the pilgrims up here to the north, and the situation almost seemed to be normal. But in the last two days, things have obviously changed and only one group has stayed in the city and their trip ends today. It is difficult to foresee when we will see other pilgrims.
The community of Nazareth remains united in prayer
“At the moment, there are nine of us in the community, plus a priest who helps us every day. It is important for us to continue following all the times of the celebrations in the sanctuary: not only because it is our responsibility, as the friars of the Custody, to look after it, but above all because our mission is to be committed to praying for peace, especially at the moment. Remaining united in prayer is also fundamental because the atmosphere is tense: it is of great consolation for us friars to meet and pray together. In addition, the liturgical life must go on because the Sanctuary is also a parish and we have to think of our local community.”
A day full of moments of prayer
“The day of 17 October will be full of initiatives for peace, justice and reconciliation and many of these will be streamed live to allow Christians all over the world to join us. We will begin with the Holy Mass in front of the grotto at 8.00 a.m. and the exposition of the Most Holy Sacrament, then the recital of the Rosary, the Angelus, the crown of Divine Mercy. In the evening, there is the Holy Mass presided over by His Excellence Mons. Rafiq Nahra, Patriarchal Vicar for Israel and Auxiliary Victor of the Latin Patriarchate, to then conclude with St Joseph's crown. Let me remind you always that you can always be connected with the Grotto, through the live streaming from the Grotto of the Annunciation».
“It is a fine sign to see how here in Nazareth everybody has answered the call: as well as our programme, there are other initiatives which have been organized by religious communities and groups present in the city, for example that of the Italian Fatebenefratelli hospital. We never stop praying. Thank heavens there have been no conflicts between the inhabitants of the city of Nazareth where there is the sanctuary and the upper city of Nazareth (Nazareth Illit, which is now called Nof HaGalil) because we know that the latter has a majority of Jewish inhabitants and the former of Arab inhabitants, both Christian and Muslim.”