Advent with the Custos

On the Saturday preceding the first Sunday of Advent, the city of Bethlehem celebrated and welcomed the Custos of the Holy Land, Father Francesco Patton. Father Patton arrived from Jerusalem passing by the Patriarchs street and walked past the monument dedicated to the tomb of Rachel, the biblical figure. Gestures that go back to an old tradition of the religious leaders.

On his arrival at Manger Square, Father Francesco Patton was received by the civil authorities of the city.

Other Franciscans and the people’s affection accompanied Father Patton on his way to the Basilica of the Nativity.


Christian woman from Bethlehem
“We are very happy to welcome the new Custos of the Holy Land in Bethlehem because today we begin the Advent season. I hope this is a time of peace. ”

At the door of humility, the Custos of the Holy Land was welcomed by the leaders of the greek-Orthodox and Armenian Churches, which share custody of the basilica with the Franciscans.

The ceremony of the solemn entry of the Custos to Bethlehem, an event that also officially marks the beginning of Advent, took place in the Church of St. Catherine, adjacent to the Basilica of the Nativity.

Father Artemio VITORES, OFM

Guardian of the Basilica of the Nativity
“The word Advent means arrival, which is an ancient word, formerly used for political issues to welcome an emperor or a king with torches and songs. We are preparing for the arrival of the Lord, which will take place in Christmas.”

Saturday afternoon, the Franciscans recited the Vespers and went in procession to the Grotto of the Nativity of the Child Jesus.

Signs of adoration were made before the star of the cave.

In the grotto of the manger, there was another moment of silence. The first Advent candle was lit in this place, from which a light once shone for the world.

Custos of the Holy Land
“In the journey of advent, we are constantly called to watch and pray. Why do we watch and pray? Because we are waiting to meet Him. We are waiting for Him whom the Word of God calls ‘Prince of Peace’, Jesus, therefore there must be a desire to meet Him, there must be invocation and especially a commitment to peace “.

During the first Sunday of Advent, the Church of St. Catherine was filled with faithful and religious to celebrate the beginning of the liturgical year and to commemorate St. Catherine of Alexandria, to which the parish is dedicated.

Custos of the Holy Land
“Santa Caterina is a martyr, and as a martyr she reminds us that she loved Jesus even more than her own life. So I believe that is a very important message for us today.”

Pastor – Parish St. Catherine – Bethlehem
“Every church has its patron saint, to protect his faithful and at the same time to encourage them on the path of holiness. The Patron Protector of the Parish of Bethlehem is St. Catherine. The celebration of the advent time here is very important, because we are preparing for the coming of Jesus, especially here, where he was born.”

During Mass, a special moment was dedicated to couples celebrating their silver and gold wedding anniversary.


Christian man from Bethlehem
“This is a chance to celebrate three different events: the beginning of advent, the feast of St. Catherine and our 25 years of marriage. My wife and I are very happy.”

The opening of the advent indicates that the focus of the Church in the Holy Land is aimed at Bethlehem, in the growing anticipation of the arrival of the Child.

Christian woman from Bethlehem
“On this first Sunday of Advent, we must prepare our hearts through prayer, asking God to bring us peace. We must live by faith: we must not only prepare what is part of the tradition, like the trees, our clothing and food, but we must prepare our hearts.”