2018
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The Custody celebrates the solemnity of the Visitation in Ain Karem

The Custody of the Holy Land celebrated the Solemnity of the Visitation in the shrine dedicated to this Gospel episode, which is located in Ain Karem—a village just outside of Jerusalem. The pilgrimage took place on June 2 because on May 31, the actual feast day, the Franciscan friars of the Custody were busy with the celebrations at the Holy Sepulcher for the feast of Corpus Christi. Thus, it was moved to the following Saturday, [and] the solemnity was also celebrated by the parishioners of the church of St. Savior in Jerusalem and by several pilgrims.

In the 14th century, the place of the Virgin Mary’s visit to Elizabeth was identified as different from that of the place of St. John’s Nativity. In addition to the Gospel episode, in the same church, one can find the memory of the hiding of St. John the Baptist, taken from the apocryphal Protoevangelium of James (2nd century) and mentioned by the Russian abbot Daniel (early 12th century).

In his homily, the Custos of the Holy Land summarized the message of the feast in three words: joy, charity, faith. “These are three fundamental attitudes of Mary’s life, but also for each of us if we want to live according to the teachings of the Gospel,” said Fr. Francesco Patton. “Joy is an invitation that the Word of God often sends us: 84 times in the New Testament alone,” explained the Custos. “Christian existence is joy. Behind Mary’s joy is the closeness of the Lord who has worked great things in her. With respect to the second word, love, the Custos spoke about “the personal, oblative and concrete love,” which Mary manifested on many occasions and which we must imitate. Referring to the last summary word for the feast, faith, Fr. Patton indicated the song of the Magnificat, as the moment in which Mary reads her life and the history of humanity with the eyes of faith. “Only a glance of faith allows us to keep alive the certain hope that God is working and that he fulfills what he has promised.”

At the end of the mass, a procession went from the upper church and descended to the crypt of the Nativity, where the Gospel was read. The Superior of the Franciscan Fraternity of the Visitation, Br. Wladyslaw Brzezinski, in his final remarks, used the words from the Custos’ homily and thanked everyone present.
After mass, a light refreshments were served in the sunny area in front of the Crypt, to celebrate the Visitation by sharing a moment of fraternal communion.

Beatrice Guarrera

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