A joyful break to celebrate Spain

On Sunday, September 11, the Spanish community in Jerusalem did not waver when it came time to travel in order to take part in the mass celebrated in honor of Our Lady of the Pillar at Saint Savior’s Church in Jerusalem. This feast in honor of the Virgin, which is celebrated by the Church on October 12, coincides with the Hispanic Day, the Spanish national holiday. The connections between the Mother of God and Spain were remembered by the Custody when it invited the country’s Consul General to Jerusalem for a mass of thanksgiving.
Br. Marcelo Cichinelli, a Spanish-speaking priest who presided over the celebration, recalled that “this celebration is rooted in the origins of the Franciscan Order, when early on, the friars officiated as sacristans of the royal houses. We are not their chaplains anymore but the link has remained; it has evolved over the centuries, and despite the changes in political regimes, the Custody has always been focused on prayerfully thanking nations that support its mission. For Spain, these two celebrations take place annually. One takes place in the intimacy of the Holy Sepulcher for the Feast of the King, and the second is for Our Lady of the Pillar, patroness and protector of Spain.”
Present at the celebration were twenty priests, including the Custodial Vicar, Br. Dobromir Jasztal, Br. Enrique Bermejo, the head of the “little Cenacle” (Cenacolino) who gave the homily, as well as many friars from the community. Also present were His Eminence Fernando Carderera Soler, the Spanish ambassador in Tel Aviv, who made the trip especially for the occasion, as well as several members of the Consulate General in Jerusalem and several members of the Civil Guard.
His Eminence Juan José Escobar, Consul General in Jerusalem, accompanied by his wife, was given the seat of honor. He reminded custodia.org that the links between the Custody and Spain, which are very ancient ones indeed, were renewed and formalized by a treaty between Spain and the Holy See in 1994.
At a time when tension in Jerusalem is making news headlines in Europe, we asked the Consul General if the consulate had given special instructions to Spanish residents or pilgrims coming here. “We have updated the instructions for travelers, said the diplomat. We do not discourage travel to the Holy Land but we are inviting travelers to adopt measures of prudence and vigilance. In Jerusalem, we draw particular attention to El Wad Street, a section of the old city,” which begins at the Damascus Gate and goes toward the Western Wall.
Despite a heavy-hearted atmosphere in town, this celebration—which also included prayers for peace for the two conflicting peoples who inhabit this unique land—was a festive break that ended with refreshments in the rectory lobby.
For all Spaniards of the Holy Land and elsewhere, and for all those who throughout the centuries have generously labored for the cause, the Custody sends all of its well wishes wishes on the occasion of Spain’s national holiday.

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