Pope Francis to the Franciscans of the Holy Land: “Thank you for what you are doing”

A surprise visit to the refectory of Saint Saviour’s Monastery for Pope Francis, who said to the Franciscan friars : “Thank you for what your are doing in the Holy Land. Without exaggeration we can say that if the Holy Land is alive, if there are Christian communities, a Christian presence, it is thanks to you! What you are doing is beautiful!”. (To watch smartphone video, click here).

Monday evening, during the Mass celebrated in the Upper Room (Cenacle), Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa spoke about the importance of this site and the mission of the Franciscans in this land:

The chronicles tell us that the Cenacle was purchased to be given to the Franciscans in 1333; the friars go to the Holy Sepulchre for solemn celebration of the sung mass and the Divine Office. Saint Francis’s openness to missionary evangelization led the friars to the Land of our redemption, and the Church confirmed our mission as guardians of the Holy Places.

This site is one of the most wounded in all the Holy Land, witness to the many wounds of the people who live here. But we want to believe that these wounds have a real and mysterious connection to the stigmata of the Passion with which the Resurrected Jesus, here in this place, appeared to his own. We want to believe that this connection is as real and mysterious as the peace that Jesus gave us and left to us, that Peace that is Jesus himself, the Lord who conquered evil and death. Most Holy Father, we, the Church, want to protect these wounds. But together we want to hold on tenaciously to the joyful confidence of Easter: confidence in the humility of God in the poor and simple style of his Kingdom, with the patience of the grain of wheat.” (To read the full speech of Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, click here).