On the eve of the solemnity of St Francis, on the morning of Monday 3 October, teachers, students and staff of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum in Jerusalem and of the Studium Theologicum Jerosolimitanum gathered in St Saviour’s church, the seat of the Custody of the Holy Land in Jerusalem, for the solemn celebration marking the opening of the 2022-2023 academic year.
The Holy Mass was presided by the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton, who in his homily invited the worshippers to interpret the start of the new year in the light of the readings they had listened to (Letter to the Galatians and the parable of the Good Samaritan) and in the light of the solemnity of St Francis, of which the first vespers would be celebrated in the afternoon.
“What do the attitude of St Paul and that of St Francis suggest to those who study the Holy Scripture or Holy Theology, or to those who teach and those who do research? That studying the Scripture or theology cannot be just one of many subjects of study: the taste of the students or the success of the teachers is not at stake here, it is not a question of finding some new hypothesis or making some fashionable interpretations. The deep sense of studying and teaching,” continued Fr. Patton, “is to make us decide for Jesus Christ, it is that of leading us to welcome his Gospel, choosing He who, “gave himself for our sins that he might rescue us from the present evil age in accord with the will of our God and Our Father” (Galatians 1,4).”
The Custos also urged a more urgent rereading of the parable of the Good Samaritan from the Gospel according to Luke, emphasizing how today there is not only our neighbour who needs “physical” help. “Today more and more we meet the pummelled and abandoned, because they are the victims of ideological currents, ways of thinking and even theological trends.” The study and the interpretation of the Scripture, so these become fundamental for maturing, and making mature, an authentic “adult” faith, which is the only one that can discern between true and false, between deceit and truth.”
At the end of the Mass, all the community present invoked the Blessed Virgin Mary Immaculate, the seat of Wisdom and patron saint of the Franciscan Order, entrusting to her not only the path of research, teaching and study of the year that is beginning, but also the centres of study, the teachers, students and staff. The invocation to Mary was repeated by Fr. Rosario Pierri, dean of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, who in the final address to the students, renewed the wish that the immaculate heart of Mary will illuminate the study and commitment of them all.
The Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, founded on 7 January 1924 at the shrine of the Flagellation, is about to celebrate its centenary. To the religious, consecrated and laypeople from all over the world, the Studium has continued for almost a century to offer the chance to study the Holy Scripture in the very land where it was revealed. The places in the Old and the New Testament become the most faithful geographical context where the story of salvation can be understood: it is on this that the added value of the Faculty of Biblical and Archaeological Studies of Jerusalem is based.