The Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, has welcomed the first group of pilgrims to the Holy Land in over a year and a half, since Covid-19 restrictions were put in place, and has renewed his invitation to return to the places of Jesus.
After joyfully opening the doors of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem to the faithful, priests and journalists, who are in the Holy Land as the first group of the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, Archbishop Pizzaballa  renewed his invitation to come to the Holy Land.

A different experience

In an interview with Vatican Radio, the archbishop said that the meaning of the pilgrimage to the Holy Land “allows us to experience with our eyes”. It is always an extraordinary experience, which this first group is living in an even more special dimension of recollection: in the sacred places, in fact, there are not the usual queues to enter or the normal hubbub of tourists. It is a time of sorrow for the absence of pilgrims, the patriarch emphasizes, but also an occasion for reflection:

We do not need crowds, says Archbishops Pizzaballa, explaining that this time of emptiness, after having brought so many problems to everyone and especially to the many families who live from tourism in this land, can be an opportunity for rethinking. We can try to rethink the rhythm and mode of travel to ensure that they respond better to the needs of pilgrims but also of those who make religious tourism and may be touched spiritually by the encounter with the places, with the facts of Jesus and therefore with the person of Christ.

The welcome

After the Mass at Gethsemane and the visit to Bethlehem, the moment of prayer at the Holy Sepulchre arrived, with the ideal embrace between the friars of the Custody and Cardinal Feroci who is leading the group of pilgrim.

They were greeted upon their arrival with a prayer sung by the Friars Minor of the Custody. In particular, Friar Sinisa recalled that the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre has never been truly closed. He underlined this by explaining that he was surprised and hurt by the news given by the media of an alleged reopening with the end of the lockdown. There has never been a lockdown of the Holy Sepulchre either day or night, the friar explained, assuring that prayer is constant for all Christians around the world and asking that prayers be said for the Holy Land.

ENDS

Source: Vatican News article