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JERUSALEM –  On March 3, 2017, the first Friday of Lent, the faithful of the Holy City gathered to commemorate  the Crowning of Thorns of Christ at the convent of Ecce Homo, held by the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion and the community of Chemin Neuf, during a solemn Mass celebrated by Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo.

The celebration took place at the site of the Lithostrotos, the Roman pavement of Pontius  Pilate’s Antonia fortress and the headquarters of the soldiers, identified as the place where Christ was scourged, crowned with thorns and presented to the crowd with these words: “Behold the Man, Ecce Homo.”

The Mass was celebrated by Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar, with Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald of the White Fathers and former Nuncio in Egypt, and a dozen priests, with the participation of the Consul General of France in Jerusalem, Pierre Cochard, a hundred faithful, clergy many religious men and women, including the seminarians of the White Fathers, and some pilgrims.

In his homily, Bishop Marcuzzo referred to the “importance of safeguarding the Holy Places” and the “celebration of the Mysteries of Jesus Christ in the Holy Land by the Mother Church of Jerusalem, the Church of the Holy Places”. He recalled a few  popular Christian traditions and devotions, including the seventy pieces of relics of the Crown of Thorns around the world, the most important piece being at Notre Dame de Paris, under the custody of the Archbishop  of the city and the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher.  Through these relics, “it is the passion of Christ, especially in the transgression done to the head and the face, to the identity of the person and to his dignity “which is offered for the veneration and adoration of the faithful, the Bishop explained.

He invited the assembly to an “authentic  pastoral and spiritual commitment to defend and respect the dignity of every human person, particularly in countries of the Middle East where too often the person is persecuted, offended and scorned”. Finally, he urged the faithful to rekindle their “desire” and “their willingness” to be associated with the Passion of Christ, like the Virgin Mary, whom tradition calls the Co-redemptrix, and like St Paul who wrote:  “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church.” Col. 1:24

Following the celebration, those present  were able to visit the pavement of the Lithostrotos and admire the exceptional panoramic view of Jerusalem from the terrace of the convent.

Myriam Ambroselli

Photos from our correspondant in Jerusalem

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