- May 15, 2021
As his Muslim neighbors and fellow Jericho residents make their way home for the iftar, which breaks the daily fast throughout the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Franciscan Father Mario Hadchiti hands out small bags of dates and water to passersby in front of the Franciscan Good Shepherd Church.
During this year of COVID-19 lockdowns and lack of international pilgrimages, the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land has had to adjust its funding priorities and trim its budgeting, and difficult though that has been, Father Ramzi Sidawi fears the worst is still to come.
The support of Catholics worldwide is an invaluable resource for small Christian communities in the Middle East who have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, a Vatican official said.
The Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land launched a virtual Way of the Cross project for pilgrims during Lent because the Holy Land is not accessible for a second year in a row due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Franciscans trace their presence in the Holy Land to 1217 when St. Francis of Assisi founded the Province of the Holy Land, a custodian priory of the order he founded in 1209 — formally called the Order of Friars Minor. On Feb. 14, the order will celebrate the 600th anniversary of Pope Martin V instituting the Commissaries of the Holy Land Feb. 14, 1421.
For the first time in 54 years, a Mass will be celebrated Jan. 10, the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, at St. John the Baptist Chapel on the banks of the Jordan River.
A ritual bath dating to the time of Jesus has been uncovered on the Mount of Olives at the site tradition says is the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus experienced the Agony in the Garden before his arrest, trial, and crucifixion.
As the Christmas approaches, Franciscan Father Rami Asakrieh of St. Catherine Parish said he has been overwhelmed with requests for help — people have been out of work and with no income for almost nine months.