Easter Greetings: Celebrating a Universal Jerusalem

Joyous cries of “Christos Anesti” or “Buona Pasqua” welcomed the friars of the Custody to the Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate on Tuesday, April 22nd, beginning the traditional round of Easter greetings exchanged between the friars and the various Catholic and Eastern Churches.

It’s a ballet of Kawas and processions crisscrossing the holy city. Ethiopian, Armenian, Coptic, Syriac, Latin and Melchite communities: each receives visitors at its patriarchal seat and pays visits in turn.

Over a cup of coffee and a chocolate they thank one another for the shared experience of the Easter holidays. The exchange of visits is not without certain logistic difficulties, as the Custos of the Holy Land recalls good humoredly, but that is not the essential. “These Easter celebrations are a strong symbol of living together. We are not here only to guard the holy places, but to bring life in the spirit of Christ. Jerusalem is the universal city; it does not belong to anyone. Our Easter liturgies are a strong sign the retention of the Christian character of this city,” declared Patriarch Theophilos III.

The visit of the Holy Father in just over a month was on every tongue. The Custos took the opportunity to thank everyone for “the work and collaboration around this visit. They are concrete signs of our friendship and mutual respect”. The Coptic Patriarch expressed “every hope” that the visit will nourish the meeting between Pope Francis and the Patriarch of Constantinople.

Also on everyone’s mind was the suffering of Middle Eastern Christians, which the Armenian and Syriac Orthodox Patriarchs strongly emphasized. “We differ on certain theological or liturgical points, but in the face of adversity every man is equal to every other man, and every Christian is his brother,” said Armenian Patriarch Nourhan Manougian. The Armenians took advantage of their visit to greet Fra Basilio Talatinian in the infirmary, allowing centenarian friar the opportunity to have a brief conversation in Armenian and renew his connection with his Armenian roots.

While the thudding of the kawas’ staves grew fainter, His Excellence Giuseppe Lazzaretto, Apostolic Nuncio, came to visit the Franciscan community at Saint Saviour for lunch on Thursday the 24th of April.

But Christian clergy were not the only visitors to the Custody. The year the presence of a delegation from the Palestinian government and the Israeli police was also appreciated.

» custodia.org
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