JERUSALEM – Monday, June 13, 2016 – The Franciscan community of Jerusalem celebrated the feast of St. Anthony, patron of the Custody of the Holy Land.

Saint Anthony of Padua, preacher and doctor of the Church, is revered especially by the community of Franciscans of the Holy Land. Every June 13, the friars of the Custody celebrate the saint they revere as their patron, model of Franciscan life and widely admired for his humility and faithfulness to God. This year in Jerusalem, the Mass was celebrated in the Church of Saint Saviour and presided over by Fr. Francesco Patton, the new Custos and successor to Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa.

Bishop William Shomali, Patriarchal Vicar for Jerusalem and Palestine attended the Mass in choir dress, representing the Latin Patriarch, Fouad Twal. Several representatives of Churches in Jerusalem, as well as local and consular authorities were also present.

In his homily, Fr Patton commented on the life of St. Anthony, highlighting the important stages of his life: “The life of Saint Anthony was a continuous and sincere search for God’s will. We must learn that we are not the ones taking the lead in our lives, but it is the Lord who takes us by the hand to guide us through unforeseen and unpredictable situations. It behooves us to be open to God’s surprises and not to resist Him. (…) Anthony teaches us to love freely, with a pure heart, without ulterior motives, without wanting to possess the other by making him an instrument of our selfishness. The biographers of St. Anthony tell us that to maintain a love of this kind, pure and chaste, Anthony had to struggle against himself. Love so clear is always a great effort! Selfishness is easy to buy, true love has the price of our lives.” Love in an authentic way is always a great effort! Selfishness is easy to buy, while true love costs us our life.” The Custos also explained the various symbols of St. Anthony left by tradition: the monk’s habit, the lily, the Child Jesus, the bread, and the Word of God. All images that prompt the faithful to admire Saint Anthony, but also serve as an invitation to imitate. “Today we venerate Saint Anthony – concluded Father Custos – we solemnly celebrate his birthday, and we ask his intercession, that he will accompany us throughout our lives. This veneration can only be sincere, and his intercession effective only if we seek to imitate him on the way of love.”

Fr. Francesco Patton arrived last week in the Holy Land, and was welcomed in Jerusalem by representatives of local churches and the entire Franciscan community. He solemnly entered the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, the Cenacle on Mount Zion, Bethlehem and Jaffa, where, last Sunday, he presided over the Mass of the feast of Anthony of Padua, patron saint of the parish. An opportunity to discover these holy places of which he is now the guardian for at least six years.

Thomas Charrière
Photos : © LPJ / Thomas Charrière

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