Every year, the Catholic Communion and Liberation movement organizes a meeting in Rimini, in Northern Italy. This year, the Holy Land has come to Rimini, with a pictorial exhibit on the Holy Land. Speaking to the crowd on August 20 regarding the 800 years of Franciscan presence in the Holy Land, the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton, inaugurated the exhibit, stating that its theme was, “The Land Beloved of God: The Custody of the Holy Land.”
The common theme of the week was “What you inherit from your fathers, earn it again so as to possess it,” said Fr. Patton. “The theme intends to bring the need to combine the memory of the past with personal responsibility for the present, which is also a way to make a contribution toward building a different future.” The photographic images of the exhibit refer to memory, but the eight-century Franciscan presence in the Holy Land is also related to memory, explained the Custos.
Fr. Patton invited listeners “to come as pilgrims to the Holy Land, to share the experience of being in those places and regain in a very personal way the sense of being there as pilgrims and foreigners,” in addition to “regaining the daily living memory of faith through our existential attachment to Him.”
“Our presence in the Holy Land is primarily related to staying in those places of memory that are sanctuaries,” continued Patton. “Today we keep about 70 shrines and live in 50 of them. This is our way of being friars minor, and therefore it is a way of giving praise to God in the liturgy.” It should not be forgotten, however, that the history of the Franciscan presence in the Holy Land is also a history of ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, which was possible eight centuries ago and which lasted for eight hundred years… Dialogue is never easy but it is necessary,” said the Custos.
Discussion moderator Roberto Fontolan, Director of the International Center for Communion and Liberation, asked the Custos how the Holy Land has impacted him personally. “As a pilgrim in 1994 I was impressed by the Holy Sepulcher and by Mount Tabor,” replied Patton. “Last year, however, I became more aware of the complexity and the charm of this land.” In order to experience this complexity, Fr. Francis emphasized the importance of dialogue that happens through both small and large encounters with Muslims and Jews and with all of the realities that are present.
After the Custos of the Holy Land spoke, many visited the Custody’s Exhibit, which was on display at the meeting through Saturday, August 26. Ultimately, the images of the exhibit will published in a catalog by Edizioni Terra Santa, which will be sold in Rimini.
Alessandra Vitez, Rimini’s exhibit manager, explained where the idea for the exhibit came from: “For so many years, the friendship between this meeting and the Custody has been very active. Thinking about the 800-year presence of the Custody in the Holy Land, we wanted to celebrate this moment through images and texts.”