HOLY LAND – The Feast of St. Francis of Assisi was celebrated on Tuesday, October 4, 2016, by the Custody of the Holy Land with a Solemn Mass at St. Savior Church in Jerusalem.
The Mass was presided by the Very Rev. Martin Staszak, O.P., Prior of the Dominican Community of St. Stephen’s Convent, and concelebrated by a number of priests among them Father Francesco Patton,OFM, Custos of the Holy Land, Custodial Vicar, Father Dobromir Jasztal and Jerusalem Parish Priest Father Feras Hijazin.
Also present at the celebration were Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, Apostolic Nuncio in Israel and Delegate for Jerusalem and Palestine, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, Archbishop Joseph Jules Zerey, Greek Melkite Patriarchal Vicar in Jerusalem and Bishop Kamal Bathish.
The Liturgy started with the procession of priests, mostly Franciscans and from different religious communities, and the singing of Latin hymns.
In his homily, Father Staszak, spoke about the exemplary and extraordinary life of St. Francis who “had nothing to offer but absolute poverty” and who “put his existence in God’s hands” looking always to “seek God as the origin of everything”.
“St. Francis lived the mission of the Church in its entirety. He reminds us that our Kingdom is not on this earth. Our origin and purpose is God,” he added. “Through his life, St. Francis criticized and put the Church on its right path. Today, when we think of St. Francis, we wonder: what is the foundation of our lives and behaviors?”
According to tradition, in a city where there is a Franciscan and a Dominican community, a Dominican friar celebrates the feast of St. Francis in the Franciscan convent, and, vice-versa, a Franciscan friar celebrates the feast of St. Dominic in the Dominican convent. The two Orders were founded at the same time, and have had a very close friendship since the time of St. Francis and St. Dominic.
At the end of the Mass, Father Francesco Patton thanked the Father Martin Staszak for presiding the Mass and all bishops and priests present. He also thanked the Consuls General of France, Italy, Belgium and Spain who were present for the celebrations.
In Nazareth, a mass was presided by Bishop Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar in Nazareth, Fr. Bruno Varriano, ofm, and Fr. Amjad Sabbara, the Parish priest of Nazareth, in the Basilica of the Annunciation. The mass was celebrated near the grotto where Archangel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary.