Holy Land Franciscans re-open hotel for pilgrims in Nazareth: 56 rooms, chapel and more

(custodia) It is a slight breeze that stirs the shadow of the Custody of the Holy Land’s flag suspended on the balcony of the Casa Nova. On Friday, February the 6th, the Custody of the Holy Land inaugurated the reopening of the Casa Nova of Nazareth, “one of the first in the country” said the Custos, Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa.
A few hours to the opening of the “Casa”, a worker polishes the glass entrance, the others bustle with final arrangements. The building has not only recovered it spotlessness but has expanded and has been offered a complete overhaul. The Basilica of the Annunciation shades over the house that has and will accommodate pilgrims coming from all over the world to commemorate the mystery of the Annunciation.
Once night had fallen, the terrace, illuminated by candle flames, sees slowly the arriving guests. Around 7 p.m., H.E. Cardinal Baldisseri, H.B. Bishop Fouad Twal and the Custos, Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, are preparing to bless the Casa Nova. They were accompanied by Bishop Emeritus Hanna Bathish, Bishop Marcuzzo, Bishop William Shomali, Bishop George Bacouni and Fr. Ibrahim Faltas, OFM. The celebrants stood by the red ribbon stretched at the entrance. The Custos recalled the meaning and mission of Casa Nova: to be close to the holy sites in order to serve the pilgrims. “God bless all who made this possible!” he concluded. After the reading of the Gospel, introductory prayer, blessing and sprinkling of water, the ribbon was cut and the applause of the crowd was heard punctuated by “ululating” sounds.
Built with the local stone and guarded by the statue of St. Joseph, the Casa Nova with its three lemon trees and medlar on its terrace, has everything of a Palestinian home. The Byzantine icons on the walls contrast with the authentic stone. “The first document that evokes the Casa Nova dates from 1887; it is the separation of the monastery from the local parish,” explains Fr. Gianfranco Cau, OFM, the hotel manager. “It was one of the few hotels in the region, the same goes for the other Casa Novas in the major cities,” he says. Nabil Haddad, Chief Architect, from the village of Tarshiha in Galilee, joins Fr. Gianfranco to express his emotion about the accomplished work and to thank all those who contributed to the renovation. Wajdi Bsharat, a supplier and former student of the Salesian school, applauded the outcome, “The attention that has been paid to the choice of products and to the work to the smallest detail is remarkable,” he said with a touch of pride.
The hotel has 56 rooms, a conference room equipped with a projector, two large living rooms, a dining room, a bar, and a large terrace. On that February 6th, the venue had already hosted its first guests (and other the curious pilgrims) in a warm convivial setting. The Casa Nova of Nazareth, faithful to the Arabic phrase “il bēt bētak!” (“this house is your house!”) was back in service.
We look forward to welcoming you in Nazareth!