“Welcome to the Heart of the Holy Land”: the Apostolic Nuncio’s solemn entry to the Holy Sepulcher

Mons. Leopoldo Girelli processed into the Basilica of the Resurrection on December 14, welcomed by the Christian religious authorities of the Holy City. Church leaders from all over the Holy Land gathered in Jerusalem to witness the solemn entry into the Holy Sepulcher by the new Apostolic Nuncio to Israel and Cyprus and the Apostolic Delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine.

The solemn event was of particular importance, because of what the Basilica represents for Christendom and because of the unique rules that govern it. The place where Jesus Christ himself resurrected is, in fact, managed according to the Status Quo, which establishes the rules of the celebrations because the property is shared by several denominations. Therefore, the three main proprietary communities of the Holy Sepulcher, the Greek Orthodox, Latins (represented by the Franciscans) and Armenians, accompanied the Apostolic Nuncio from the departure of the procession at the Jaffa Gate. The Jaffa Gate is the place where official diplomatic entries into the Old City of Jerusalem always take place, and this is how it was for the papal representative as well.

FROM THE JAFFA GATE. Thus, from there, Mons. Leopoldo Girelli set out, escorted by the Vicar of the Custody, Fr. Dobromir Jasztal, the representative of the Franciscan friars (who are rightfully included in the Status Quo), by a representative of the Greek Orthodox Church and by one of the Armenian church. In the presence of the President of the Assembly of Catholic Priests of the Holy Land, the Melkite Archbishop of Acre, Mons. Georges Bacouni, making his way through the crowd of faithful, the new Apostolic Nuncio arrived at the door of the Holy Sepulcher, where the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, Mons. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, was waiting for him.

WELCOMING THE CUSTOS. In front of the Stone of Anointing, the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton, greeted Mons. Girelli: “Welcome to the heart of the Holy Land, welcome to Jerusalem, the Holy City that is loved by all of the sons of Abraham, Jews, Christians and Muslims; welcome to the holiest place for our Christian faith, which is this basilica that houses Calvary and the Holy Sepulcher. This is a land where tensions can suddenly be unleashed, like a summer storm,” said Fr. Patton. “And where single words carry such a weight and resonance that the gift of wisdom and prudence are truly necessary, and we will pray for them in a few days, at the Antiphon ‘O’ on December 17. It is this same gift of wisdom and prudence that we invoke for you in your diplomatic service to this land, to the countries that fall within your mandate and to this city.” Fr. Patton spoke of the importance of the Holy Sepulcher as a place for commemorating the encounter of the Risen Lord with his Mother and his encounter with Mary Magdalene. “The first, the Mother, is the image of the Church that guards the faith in the Risen Lord. The second, the Magdalene, is the image of the Church called to bring the joyful and surprising announcement that Jesus has risen and always precedes us.”

PIZZABALLA’S GREETING. In front of the shrine, Mons. Pierbattista Pizzaballa took the floor, recalling why it is a beautiful tradition that the beginning of any important Christian office in Jerusalem be marked by an official entry into the Holy Sepulcher: “Like the Apostles, at the beginning of every new activity, we also come here. We come and start from here, firstly to make it clear to ourselves who we are. We are disciples of the Lord and not lords.” According to the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, the Holy Sepulcher is also a place of prayer to entrust our own mission to God. We have a lot to carry, especially in these days, when violence and misunderstandings seem to prevail again,” said Pizzaballa in reference to the latest political events, where communities and peoples apparently refuse to recognize the rights of others and where the sanctity of the places of the Scriptures has become a source of division and not places of prayer for all peoples.” Mons. Pizzaballa assured his prayers for and closeness to the new Nuncio, wishing him wisdom, humility, freedom and strength.”

A MISSION OF PEACE. Mons. Leopoldo Girelli brought the blessing of Pope Francis and thanked all those who welcomed him. “I come to share with you this deep desire for peace in the Holy Land,” he said. He recalled the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, saying “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,” and, speaking of Christmas, which is fast approaching, he recalled: “The birth of Jesus is the birth of peace. May peace come to Jerusalem and the whole world.” He also addressed a thought to Muslims and Jews in the Holy Land, calling them “brothers.”

A letter of recommendation from Pope Francis was then delivered to the Melkite Archbishop of Acre, Mons. Georges Bacouni, as President of the Assembly of Catholic Priests of the Holy Land.

Mons. Girelli then stopped at the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem for a light refreshment, where he was congratulated by all of the religious, sisters and faithful gathered for the event. Commenting on the day, the Nuncio said: “I experienced the moment of entry to the Holy Sepulcher very intensely. My path is to create ecclesial communion in the name of the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, and at the same time to become an announcer of the Gospel and of the Resurrection.”

Beatrice Guarrera

» custodia.org
© 2011 Terra Sancta blog   |   privacy policy
custodia.org    proterrasancta.org    cmc-terrasanta.com    terrasanta.net    edizioniterrasanta.it    pellegrinaggi.custodia.org