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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Feast of St. Francis of Assisi celebrated for three days in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM – From October 3-5, the feast of St. Francis was celebrated in an unusual way in Jerusalem. This year, the feast of Saint Francis  on October 4 coincided with the Jewish celebration of Yom Kippur,  the Muslim Eid al-Adha, and the celebration of the solemn profession Brother David Grenier of the Custody of the Holy Land.
The Catholic celebrations began on Friday, October 3 with  First Vespers and the traditional Rite of  “Transitus” of Saint Francis.

The following day, the Custos of the Holy Land presided over the Mass on the feast of Saint Francis at the altar of the Crucifixion on Golgotha ​​in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. During the celebration, Brother David Grenier, a Canadian, in the presence of a prayerful and recollected assembly, made his final vows in the Order of Friars Minor. It was a beautiful and moving celebration, and the songs were inspired by a group of volunteers from the Holy Land, friends of the young brother.

Many were unable to participate  in celebration of the feast of St. Francis on Saturday, October 4 because of street closures and checkpoints for the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.  The Custody decided to postpone the  celebration for the feast to the next day, Sunday, October 5.

A Mass for the Feast of St. Francis was celebrated on Sunday, October 5 at the Church of the Convent of Saint Savior. The principal celebrant  was Father Guy Tardivy, prior of the Dominican convent, at the École Biblique Jérusalem.  It is the tradition that in a city where there is a Franciscan and a Dominican community, a Dominican friar  celebrates the feast of St. Francis in the Franciscan convent, and, vice-versa, a Franciscan friar goes to the Dominican convent on the Feast of St. Dominic. The two mendicant orders were born at the same time, and have had a very close friendship since the time of St. Francis and St. Dominic.

Present at the Mass were many St. Savior parishionersand foreign residents of the Holy City. The event was celebrated by many non-Franciscan and Franciscan priests, whose superior is the Custos of the Holy Land, Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa. Also present at the celebration were the Latin auxiliary bishop of Jerusalem, Bishop William Shomali,  Bishop Emeritus Kamal Bathish and the Maronite bishop of Galilee, Bishop Moussa Al-Haj.

A number of representatives of the Eastern Churches in Jerusalem also came to share with the Catholic Church in the Holy Land in the joyful celebration of St. Francis. Also in attendance were civil authorities, government and consular representatives.

In his homily, delivered in Italian, Father Tardivy noted the similarities between the sons of Francis and sons of St. Dominic, including the love of poverty, and the desire to live the Gospel life, to become preachers of the Good News, not only in word and in books, but in truth, imitating Christ himself.

Firas Abedrabbo


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