The Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth welcomed for the first time the new Custos of the Holy Land, Father Francesco Patton.
The solemn entry marked the arrival of the new Superior of the Franciscans in the Basilica which is under the custody of the Order of Friars Minor. The sanctuary is among the most significant in the Christian faith, the holy place where the Word of God became flesh.
Accompanied by the guardian of the basilica and by the Franciscan community, the Custos headed to the Grotto, to venerate the place where the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, bringing the news that she would be the Mother of the Savior.
Father BRUNO Varriano, OFM
Rector and Guardian of the Basilica of the Annunciation
"This solemn entrance of the Custos, Father Francesco Patton into Nazareth is very important, because this is the place of the Incarnation, where Mary’s ‘YES’ took place and is also the place that guards the Holy Family: it is a very important site for the Church as well as for Christianity in Nazareth. Christians of Nazareth, with this entry, are confirmed in the faith.”
The event was attended by the civil authorities and the leaders of other Eastern Christian churches, in addition to religious communities operating in Nazareth and the local Arab Christians, all present to welcome the new Custos.
RABAB ZAETUN ZAHER
Christian woman from Nazareth
"It was a time of great celebration. Everyone was very excited to get to meet the new Custos, because in this transition period we felt like sheep without a shepherd. Although our priests and pastors have always taken care of us, this place was incomplete. Thus, the arrival of the new Custos makes us happy and hopeful.”
Sister M. GUADALUPE MARTINEZ RODRIGUES
Daughters of Saint Claire - Nazareth
"It is a blessing for the entire Church and especially here, because the Custos is the representative of Saint Francis in the Holy Land: he is responsible for guarding the holy places as well as the Church in this land. Therefore, this is an immense blessing that is given to us now. "
With his speech about the grandeur of this place, the Custos showed that here God has said yes to our humanity and later he explained how He works in our lives.
"It is God who takes the initiative, He loves us first. He is the protagonist, even when calling us to work on His project, or when entrusting us with a mission, whether large or small. "
In Nazareth, Father Patton concluded the ceremonies that marked his entry into the office of the Custos of the Holy Land. It is nothing but the beginning of his new mission.
Fr. FRANCESCO PATTON, ofm
Custos of the Holy Land
"Now we can say that the actual service begins.. (...) The next important event for us Franciscans of the Holy Land will be the Chapter, from July 4 to July 14, during which we will be able to closely analize how the Custody and the Custody friars have lived these last three years and later, together, to try to understand what the Lord is asking us for the future. Right now, the most important thing for me to do is listen: listen to the friars of the Custody of the Holy Land, listen to the community, listen to this reality that is certainly complex, but at the same time extraordinarily fascinating.”
On Saturday evening, Father Francesco Patton took also part in the torchlight procession, the traditional Marian procession with candles, around the Basilica of the Annunciation.