In Jerusalem the Custody of the Holy Land celebrates 800 years of Franciscan presence in the Middle East

Celebration in Jerusalem for the Custody of the Holy Land with three days of conferences, meetings and international guests in the Old City.

The first Franciscan friars landed in Acre in 1217, led by Friar Elia da Cortona.
800 years have gone by and the friars are still present in the Holy Land. They are dedicated to the safeguarding of the places important to Christianity and to supporting the local people. In order to celebrate this important anniversary, on October 16-18, the Franciscan monastery of St. Saviour in the Old City of Jerusalem will host a serie of conferences and meetings with exceptional speakers and prominent figures from all of Christendom.

October 16: This day is dedicated to organizations and institutions that support the many activities of the Custody. In the afternoon at St. Saviour, a liturgical ceremony, presided by the Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor, Fr. Michael Perry, opens the anniversary celebrations.

October 17: The Prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, will speak about “The role of the Franciscans in the Holy Land.” On the 17th is the highlight of the celebrations, with the participation of important persons from the diplomatic and academic world as well as religious representatives. Among the conferences, there will also be one about the friar who led the first Franciscan delegation, Fr. Elia da Cortona, and one about the precious work of discovering and cataloging photos from Syria, carried out by the Custody.

October 18: The third day will help us reflect on the significance of the frescoes in the Upper Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, followed by a brief speech about the first Franciscan monasteries in the Middle East. A copy of the frescoes has been on display since the month of May at the entrance of the Custodial Curia. In the afternoon, a mass with the Vicar General of the Order, followed by a concert organized by the Custody’s musical institute, the Magnificat, will bring the three-day event to a close.

The celebrations for the 800th anniversary of Franciscan presence began in June when the friars went on a special commemorative pilgrimage to Acre, the site of the Franciscans’ first landing in 1217. The three days of conferences and meetings in October are therefore only a part of all the activities that will take place in this special year 2017. The celebrations, though, will not end this year. The goal of the Custody of the Holy Land is to carry out a series of initiatives over the next two years so as to commemorate also the encounter that the founding father of the Order, St. Francis, had in 1219 with Sultan Malek-El-Kamel, in Damietta, Egypt.

“As Franciscans, we see these eight centuries as a manifestation of God’s Providence, fidelity and goodness towards us,” said the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton, “because he chose a simple, poor, colorful ecclesial instrument that is at times a bit messy, to carry on, not our history, but His own, which is always an history of salvation.”


Monday 16 October
9.00 Hall of the ImmaculateConference “The Partners of the Custody”. Greetings and thanksgiving: Minister General, Custos, Custodial Economo. Moderator: Fr. Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land
Lunch break

16,00 Church of Saint Saviour – Liturgical ceremony for the opening of the celebrations of the Anniversary. President: Fr. Michael Perry, Minister General of the Order
17,30 Hall of the Immaculate – Fraternal meeting with Fr. Michael Perry, Minister General and Fr. Julio César Bunader, Vicar General of the Order

Tuesday 17 October

8,00 Church of St. SaviourEucharistic Celebration. President: His Eminence Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches
9,30 Hall of the Immaculate Conference: “Always preach the Gospel, and if it is necessary preach it also with your words! The Franciscan Presence in the Holy Land and in the Middle East”. Speaker: Cardinal Leonardo Sandri. Moderator: Fr. Francesco Patton, Custos
Coffee break
11,00 Hall of the Immaculate Conference: “Brother Elias and the Chapter of 1217! A Province of Outremer” Speaker: Prof. Filippo Sedda, Pontificia Università Antonianum. Moderator: Fr. Rosario Pierri, Dean of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum
Lunch break

15,30 Hall of the ImmaculateConference: “Acri during the times of Brother Elias of Cortona”. Speaker: Prof. Giuseppe Ligato, Society for the Study of the Crusadesand the Latin East
Coffee break
17,00 Hall of the ImmaculateConference: “A passion for Syria its archeology and its people! The Peña, collection of photographic documents”. Speaker: Prof. Emmanuelle Main, Historian of Ellenistic and Roman Period. Moderator:Fr.G. Claudio Bottini, Dean Emeritus of the Faculty of Biblical Sciences and Archaeology SBF
19,30 – Fraternal dinner in the courtyard of the Custodial Curia

Wednesday 18 October
8,00 Church of St. SaviourHoly Mass. President: Fr. JulioCésarBunader, Vicar General
9,30 Hall of the Immaculate Conference: “The Giotto frescoes of the Upper Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi: analyses and interpretations”. Speaker: Prof. Don Lorenzo Cappelletti, Pontificia Università Antonianum
It will be possible to visit the copy of the frescoes in the exhibition at the entrance hall of the Custodial Curia
Coffee break
11,00 Hall of the ImmaculateConference: “The Remains of the ancient Franciscan Friary of Mount Zion. Iconography. Archaeology” (Brief presentation 30 minutes). Speaker: Prof. P. Eugenio Alliata, Director of the Archaeological Museum SBF
11,45 Hall of the ImmaculateConference: “The first Franciscan Friaries in the Middle East”. (Brief presentation 30 minutes). Speaker: Prof. P. Narcyz Klimas, Lecturer SBF-STJ. Moderator: Fr. Dobromir Jasztal, Custodial Vicar
Lunch break

16,00 Church of St. Saviour Concluding celebration and Solemn Vespers.President: Father Custos Francesco Patton
17,00 Church of St. SaviourConcert of thanksgiving for the 800 years of Franciscan Presence in the Holy Land. Performance by the musicians of the Magnificat Musical Institute of Jerusalem
Refreshments will follow

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