CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 11 November 2017

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Franciscans 800 years in Holy Land

ROME (SE): The Brothers of the Cord, as the Franciscans used to be known are celebrating an 800-year presence in the Holy Land.
 
In 1217, the seraphic, as the minister general used to be known, opened up the dimension of universal mission at a chapter that convened at Pentecost, saying that the brothers would be sent to those who did not know Jesus as witnesses of faith, fraternity and peace.
 
One of the first provinces to be established was in the Holy Land, which at that time was simply referred to as overseas or of Syria.
 
In a letter sent to Father Francisco Patton, the current custos of the Holy Land Province, on October 17, Pope Francis said, “This broadening of the horizon of evangelisation was the beginning of an extraordinary adventure, which eight centuries ago led the first friars minor to disembark at Acri, where last June 11 you began your centenary celebrations, renewing your adhesion to Jesus’ calling, faithful to the gospel and the Church.”
 
The pope added, “Your willingness to accompany the steps of pilgrims from every part of the world through welcome and guidance is known by all.”
 
He added that the Franciscans have dedicated themselves to research on archaeological evidence and the detailed study of the sacred scriptures, taking to heart the famous affirmation of St. Jerome, who for many years lived in retreat in Bethlehem, “Ignorance of the scriptures is ignorance of Christ himself.”
 
Pope Francis also acknowledged the parochial work done by the friars among the local Church in nourishing the faith of Catholic communities that have sprung up in the Holy Land.
 
Pope Clement VI formally entrusted the area to the care of the Franciscans in a bull, We give thanks (Gratias agimus) published in 1342.
 
The pope closed his greeting on the occasion of the 800th anniversary by reminding the friars of the words written by their founder, St. Francis of Assisi, in 1223, “Indeed, I counsel, warn and exhort my friars in the Lord Jesus Christ, that when they go about through the world, they are not to quarrel nor contend in words, nor are they to judge others, but they are to be meek, peaceable and modest, simple and humble, speaking uprightly to all, as is fitting.”

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