12 June 2017

1217-2017: Eight hundred years since the arrival of the Franciscans in the Holy Land

The friars of the Custody gathered in St. John d'Acre to celebrate the eighth centennial of the landing of the first Friars Minor in the Holy Land.

Actuality and events

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A pilgrimage to inaugurate the celebration of the 800th anniversary of the Franciscan presence in the Holy Land.

An entire day to commemorate the arrival of the first Franciscans in the port of Acri ... ancient seaside town of the Phoenician coast whose fame dates back to the second crusade when the city took on importance as a seaport and a government seat.

The Franciscan presence dates back to St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis of Assisi arrived between the years 1219 and 1220 after meeting, in Damietta, Egypt, with the Sultan Melek el-Kamel from whom he received for himself and for his friars a sort of pass that allowed them to freely visit the Holy Places. 2017 is a particularly significant year for the Friars Minor.

Fr. FRANCESCO PATTON, ofm
Custos of the Holy Land
"This is a special year, because 800 years ago, right here at the port of the then St. John of Acre, these first friars arrived here, led by Brother Elia da Cortona who had left after the Pentecost chapter. They obviously arrived by ship to begin the Franciscan presence overseas in the Holy Land. Our presence here today, in the eighth centennial, means getting back to the sources of our Franciscan mission in the Holy Land. We feel that, once again, we were sent to build in the sign of Pentecost. We are SENT, in the sign of the Spirit who is the great protagonist of the mission of the Church, but who, in the Franciscan spirituality, is considered the general minister of the Order, because it is He who sends us.”

The day began with the Mass celebrated by Fr. Francesco Patton on June 11th, the Sunday dedicated to the Most Holy Trinity.

During the homily, he spoke of the missionary vocation based on Trinitarian Love, inspired and moved by the Holy Spirit.

During the celebration, in the presence of the Custos, the friars renewed the profession of the Order.

Fr. FRANCESCO PATTON, ofm
Custos of the Holy Land
"The mission originates from the dynamism of love that is the life of the Trinity, from the dynamism of love that engages us through our vocation, for the Mission is born on the initiative of the Father who sends the Son, and the Son gives the Spirit and sends His Church and sends his Apostles.

In the afternoon, the excursion to the streets of the ancient city of Acri was led by Father Eugene Alliata. Map in hand to discover the ancient city that aroused everyone's curiosity.

And like any trip, you could not miss the opportunity for a group photo to remember the importance of this day. After the excursion through the streets of the city, the friars attended a concert in the Terra Santa School of Acri.

For the Franciscans, this will be a time of celebrations that will end in October in the city of Jerusalem.

Fr. NARCISO KLIMAS
Custody of the Holy Land
“It is great to be here: we are here! Frankly, when I saw Acri, I said: “We made it!” This is the most important message. They stayed, they overcame all the problems they faced over the centuries and today we are able to celebrate not only their first coming but their stay, their battle for these holy places, and their victory! It must be said that during these 800 years, we have been and we are the real winners and we won, not with the weapons of the crusaders and the swords, but in a spiritual way.
The Pope entrusted us with the protection of the holy places and today we can clearly say to the pope: "We did it! We made it!"

All together to celebrate the arrival of the first Franciscans and of all those who have remained so far, those who have led the Franciscan experience for eight centuries, among people of different cultures, faiths and nations.

Fr. FRANCESCO PATTON, ofm
Custos of the Holy Land
"There are two words here that are widely used: one is 'NushkurAllah' which means “Thanks to God” and therefore we thank God for these 800 years and for everything that will come from now on. The other word is Inshallah which means "If God wants, God willing", then it is important that we try to do what God wants and what he likes.”