From Ein Karem to Jerusalem, Holy Land Christians and Franciscans gather to celebrate the Visitation


(Custodia) On Saturday, May 30, the Franciscans gathered in their sanctuary of the Visitation in Ein Karem for the mass of the Visitation. This village near Jerusalem is surrounded by natural beauty and the church garden is full of fragrant flowers. Br. Wladyslaw Brzezinski, OFM, the superior of the monastery, said: “The Visitation is normally celebrated on May 31, but since this year it falls on Holy Trinity Sunday, we are celebrating it the day before.” In the absence of Father Custos, the mass was presided over by the Custodial Vicar, Brother Dobromir Jasztal.

For 25 years for the Franciscans, this feast has been associated to the seminarians’ installation to the ministry of lector and acolyte. Br. Dobromir Jasztal addressed the ten students in his homily: “These are the first steps toward priestly ministry. You will receive the Bible to accurately convey the word of God, and the chalice and wine for the celebration of the Eucharist and to serve mass.” These steps are necessary for seminarians to become deacons and then priests. The mass ended with a procession to the crypt where Mary met her cousin Elizabeth. The morning’s celebrations concluded with some refreshments, while the friars exchanged well wishes.

46829 (1) For the friars, the day in Jerusalem ended with a gathering with parishioners to celebrate Mary. While in the monastery church after the rosary, Patriarch Fouad Twal presided over mass in a crowded church, the brothers friars in the monastery’s courtyard. From the night before, Vatican and Holy Land flags waved in this courtyard where Scouts kept vigil around the altar dedicated to the Virgin. Some parishioners came to lay flowers while awaiting the procession. A bouquet had already been left by the youngest of the Franciscans after breakfast, as is customary. At the parish, the month of May was filled with the praying of the rosary and a mass every evening in the churches of Beit Hanina, Bethphage and the Holy Savior. The Sisters of the Rosary were also involved in these prayers. Their founder is now known as Saint Mother Marie Alphonsine Ghattas, and she was from the Jerusalem parish. The cool temperatures of this late afternoon did not stop the crowd from joining the procession, but then the refreshment it brought them proved superfluous and shortly thereafter at nightfall Holy Savior Monastery became silent.1212

Hélène Morlet