DEIR RAFAT – On Sunday, October 30, 2016, the Diocese of Jerusalem celebrated the Solemnity of Our Lady of Palestine in the Sanctuary of Deir Rafat.
The celebration of the Solemnity of Our Lady falls on the last Sunday of October of every year. This year the Mass was presided by Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate, and concelebrated by Bishops William Shomali, Giacinto Boulos Marcuzzo, Kamal Bathish, and Joseph Zerey, with the participation of priests, deacons, religious men and women, seminarians from Beit Jala and Redemptoris Mater of Galilee, Knights of the Holy Sepulcher, and the faithful.
Bishop Marcuzzo read the homily on behalf of Archbishop Pizzaballa, saying: “October is the month of Mary par excellence; in the first week we celebrated the Holy Rosary; and today we celebrate the Solemnity of Our Lady of Palestine, Patroness of the Holy Land”. He added, “we came to ask for her intercession, for she is compassionate and faithful, and she is the Queen of the people of the Holy Land, children of Abraham and hers as well.”
In the light of the Letters of St. Paul and the Acts of the Apostles, the Apostolic Administrator stressed the necessity, to keep on praying, for it is not an activity that starts and ends, but is like the breath of life, uninterrupted and unceasing. If we stop praying for a long time, we can suffocate spiritually, losing the strength that comes to us from God. We might lose the internal peace and the real joy, and therefore we find ourselves overwhelmed by many hardships”.
He also pointed out the way that the Virgin Mary used to pray: “the prayer of Our Holy Mother was not one of request but a prayer of praise and thanksgiving, emanating from a joyous heart. When she visited Elizabeth she said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.”
At the end of the Mass, the traditional procession took place behind the statue of the Our Lady of Palestine.
This year, about 2000 people attended the celebration, a number that is higher than that of last year.
The sanctuary of Our Lady of Palestine was built in 1927, at the initiative of His Beatitude Patriarch Louis Barlassina, and was entrusted to the French community of the Sisters of Bethlehem.