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2015
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Best Wishes to the Armenians: "We must announce our joy"

Last greeting ceremony for the Minor Friars of Jerusalem.
Escorted by the kawas, the Franciscans went in procession to the Armenian Patriarchate where they met a significant number of members of the fraternity and the First Patriarch Nourhan Manougian.

The wishes of the Custos were focused on the joy. Recalling the various feasts celebrated during these days (the Nativity, Epiphany, the Baptism of Christ and the wedding at Cana), Father Pizzaballa wished to recall the joyous nature of these events.

“We proclaim our joy in all these celebrations. The different readings heard since Christmas speak of this joy. The joy of Christians is not just a result of the feast, not just a fleeting feeling. It’s not a superficial attitude detached from our daily life, but a permanent attitude, through which we must look at the reality of our world. “

As in previous greetings to the other Orthodox Churches, the situation of Eastern Christians martyred for their faith in Christ was at the heart of the exchanges. “How could the joy remain in our heart with the current situation?”Asks Father Custos. “Yet it remains there, because Christ gives us strength to rebuild every day the Kingdom of God here on this Holy Land. »

The visit to Armenian this year was of particular importance, since 2015 coincides with the centenary of their genocide. On this occasion, the Armenian Patriarch Nourhan was pleased with the announcement made by Pope Francis to commemorate this tragic event of their history.

In his response to the Custos, His Beatitude invited the Christians to “fix our eyes on the crib, and accept the Truth and the Life offered by the Saviour.” Helping Christians, particularly the ones being persecuted in the Middle East is an essential task for him. “Our mission to save our brothers and sisters in this moment of distress is crucial”.

After this very formal ceremony, Franciscans and Armenians shared coffee and chocolate in a warm atmosphere.

In the audience some Armenian priests recently arrived from the United States confirmed their joy to be here, to be able to celebrate Christmas with their brethren in Jerusalem. “We come here to finish our studies. This is a real opportunity for us. Today in Jerusalem, we are close to 50 priests from very different backgrounds gathered in the patriarchy. We are very few from the United States, but for example, there is also the priest of the Armenian parish of Paris. “

For the Franciscans, this was the last greeting ceremony of the Christmas period.

The spirit will now turn to the coming Easter celebrations (the Church enters the period of Lent on February 18th), while the sun of Jerusalem gives us already a foretaste of spring.

Nicolas Kimmel

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