2015
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Assumption of the Virgin: Mary as an example

The Feast of the Assumption began on the evening of August 14 with a prayer vigil in the garden of Gethsemane, located above the Virgin’s tomb. Reading different passages of her life allowed parishioners, pilgrims and various religious to pray in a reverent atmosphere. Walking through the flower garden, the faithful gathered at the Basilica of the Agony in a torchlight procession, singing Marian hymns. After a final prayer, the Custos blessed the congregation. The community of the monastery of Gethsemane, and their guardian Br. Benito Choque, also thanked all those who prayed for their presence.

On the day of the feast, the basilica was packed. The Mass was celebrated in Arabic, Italian and Latin by the Custos of the Holy Land, Br. Pierbattista Pizzaballa. In his homily, Br. Feras Hejazin, a priest at the Latin parish of Jerusalem, emphasized the official nature of the dogma of the Assumption. Declared by Pope Pius XII in 1950, it is now a truth of the Catholic faith. Mary is an example for everyone to follow: even though her life was extraordinary, it was nonetheless a human life of obedience to God’s will. “Mary’s message is hope, the hope of life after death through Christ who invites us to not be weak when faced with suffering and war,” he insisted. It is a call for everyone to pray for peace in this region and in the world.

In the afternoon, vespers were celebrated in the Grotto of the Betrayal in the presence of the Apostolic Nuncio Mons. Lazzarotto. This is the place nearest to the Virgin’s tomb where the Franciscans can celebrate. Led by the Custos, the priests and faithful then processed to go pray in front of the tomb. According to the Status Quo, it is the only day when an official Catholic prayer is allowed there. Drinks were served in the garden, which allowed everyone to cool off.

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