Born Today for the World

Some 15 Franciscan friars left their monasteries to go in procession to Saint Anne of Jerusalem Church to celebrate the birth of the Virgin Mary on Sunday, September 8.

The Custody obtained the favor of making this pilgrimage (along with the one for the Immaculate Conception on December 8) in the 15th century, as the church had been changed into a Koranic school since the Crusades. The firman that the Franciscans obtained at that time gives them the right, even today, to preside over the celebration even though in the interim the Basilica was entrusted to the White Fathers African Missionaries.

The sanctuary at the site of the “probatic pool” (Pool of Bethesda), site of Jesus’s first miracle in Jerusalem, was associated in the sixth century with the tradition that it was also the site of the birth of the Virgin Mary.

Fra Stephane Milovitch OFM chose to cite the words of Saint John Damascene in his homily: “Born today for the world is the beginning of the world of salvation (…) For in the Holy Probatic the Mother of God is born for us, from whom the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world chose to be born” (John Damascene, On the Nativity, 6).

After emphasizing how the contemplation of Mary’s life can be a guide for our daily lives, Fra Stephane invited the assembly to unite themselves to the action of Pope Francis to find a peaceful solution to the tensions in Syria. “In these difficult times,” he concluded, “we assiduously plead with the Lord of Mercy for peace in this land and also in the Middle East. May we contemplate in Mary, whose birth we celebrate today, she who is able to bear those who live on this earth toward communion, agreement and peace. Amen.”

After the celebration, the White Fathers invited the many faithful in attendance along with their guests, first among whom on this site that in the 19th century became French national territory, the Consult General of France, represented by his adjutant Mister Olivier Plançon, for refreshments—a much appreciated time of meeting and sharing during the summer break.

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