DEIR RAFAT – On Sunday, October 30th, 2022, around 3,000 foreign and local Christians from different parishes of the Holy Land came to the Shrine of Our Lady, to celebrate the solemnity of the blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Palestine and the Holy Land, main patroness of the diocese.
The last Sunday of October is a landmark on the calendar of Christians in the Holy Land, as they come together all the way from the diocese, united in prayer to celebrate the solemnity instituted by the former Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Luigi Barlassina, who built the Shrine as a prayer site for pilgrims in 1927.
His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem presided over the celebration, which was co-celebrated by many Bishops, Vicars, and parish priests. Present at the Patriarch's side were notably Mgr William Shomali, General Vicar, Mgr Rafic Nahra, Patriarchal Vicar for Israel, Mgr Adolfo Tito Yllana, Apostolic Nuncio to the Holy Land, Mgr. Yacoub Semaan, Syriac Catholic Bishop, and Mgr Boulos Marcuzzo, bishop emeritus. Among the crowds of faithful who attended the feast were Knights and Dames of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher, and Knights of the Order of Malta. The seminarians of Beit Jala also participated in the Mass and procession.
Last year, the celebration was marked by the opening, in the Holy Land, of the synodal journey wanted by Pope Francis. In his homily yesterday, the Patriarch thus urged the faithful to listen to the Word of God so that it manifests in them, and asked the Virgin Mary for her help in accomplishing the synodal mission in the Holy Land. “I pray that in this journey of ours," he said, "we learn more and more to be synodal communities. This does not just mean doing things together, deciding together, or being more democratic, but being communities where we all feel that we are participants in each other's lives."