JERUSALEM - On September 28th, after five days in the Holy Land, a group of Knights and Dames led by Fr. Giovanni Biallo, spiritual leader for the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, met with His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, in the thrice-holy city. This pilgrimage should hopefully mark the first of many, whose objectives will be to breathe ever greater spiritual life into the Order of the Holy Sepulchre.
Before this visit, the group first went to many different traditional sites of pilgrimage: Nazareth, Akko, Cana, the Sea of Galilee, the Mount of Beatitudes, Capernaum, Tabgha, Magdala... "During the pandemic, all pilgrimages stopped, so it's good to be finally back", said Fr. Giovanni after the meeting with the Patriarch. "Because these pilgrimages we make as Knights and Dames is a renewal of our promise to be close to the Lord, to grow in friendship with Jesus and in spirituality. Especially here in this very important city that is Jerusalem - for all Christians and especially for us, as members of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre."
If all pilgrimage sites are rich in history, culture and spirituality, for Fr. Giovanni, Jerusalem remains the most important stop of all, and the Holy Sepulchre its highlight. "Our quest of faith as Knights and Dames is to be true Christians. To testify to the Lord's love. And, as our relationship with Him grows, so must our help to the people in need around us. This is why another very important part of our pilgrimages concerns visiting places of charity, such as hospitals, schools, or houses for children or the elderly."
To encourage this love for the Holy Land and its people and this testimony of faith, more similar pilgrimages should take place in the near future, with a visit to the Patriarchate that notably includes a meeting with the Patriarch or the auxiliary bishops and a tour of the co-cathedral. In the end, these pilgrimages aim to act as a reminder of the Order's mission: to support those who take care of others, those who dedicate their lives to the poor, the voiceless, the forgotten.