The Procession in Commemoration of All Souls’ Day

The parishioners brought flowers and kept walking, singing through the streets of Jerusalem. On November 2, the day of the commemoration of All Souls’ Day, the traditional procession to the Catholic cemeteries took place again. A group of Franciscan friars, faithful, religious of various orders and pilgrims started the procession at the St. Savior’s Church, after attending the 8:30 a.m. mass, presided by the parish priest, Br. Nerwan Nasser Al-Banna. The friars leading the procession carried a cross, flanked by two Kawas (Honor Guards) who were beating their sticks on the ground. Through the winding streets of the old city, the procession moved slowly across several neighborhoods, arousing the tourists’ curiosity. Many believers brought bouquets of flowers to honor the graves of their loved ones. During the procession, the recitation of the rosary was alternated with songs mostly in Arabic and with the singing of the 50th Psalm, Miserere mei Deus.
The first stop of the procession was the cemetery of the friars of the Custody, where the crowd gathered in prayer while the priest sprinkled holy water and incense. “Oh God, whose days are eternal and whose mercy is boundless, always remind us how short and uncertain our earthly existence is, “ prayed the pastor of St. Savior’s before the tombs of the friars. “May your Spirit lead us in holiness and justice all the days of our life, so that, after serving You in this world, in communion with your Church, supported by faith, comforted by hope, united in charity, we can come together with all of our deceased brothers into the joy of your kingdom.” The procession then headed to the cemetery of the faithful where they recited the same prayer, while the priest sprinkled incense and holy water once more.
People that were gathered in groups later separated to visit their deceased who are buried there, the resting place for someone’s son, someone’s father or someone’s sister. Personal prayers and emotions ran high despite the surrounding atmosphere of hope. On a cloudy, yet warm morning, the sun popped out from behind the clouds at 11 a.m.. Above some of the tombstones, the incense sticks began smoking while, on the streets of the cemetery, a few ladies offered cookies, as is customary in many parts of the world for the commemoration of All Souls’ Day. Several people gathered around the grave of Oskar Schindler, where every stone placed by the visitors represents a promise of prayer, according to the Jewish custom.
The faithful kept Fr. Nerwan’s homily in their hearts. The pastor had reflected on the fear of death and sadness, a human factor that is a sign that man does not believe in the resurrection. “However, there are many witnesses to the resurrection: Jesus’ witness, the Apostles’ witnesses and their teachings, as well as the ones found in the Old Testament and elsewhere. These witnesses,” Br. Nerwan remarked, “intensify our hope in the resurrection.” He also spoke of Hell, Purgatory and Heaven, criticizing those who say that Purgatory does not exist and reminding his audience about the importance of burying the dead, because the same mortal bodies will be resurrected and they will see God. Hence, Br. Nerwan Nasser Al-Banna Baho exhorted the faithful to pray for the dead, that they may be worthy of the resurrection.

Beatrice Guarrera

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