Clicks4.1K

Our Lady of the Holy Land

h2onews.org
On the last Sunday in October, dozens of buses and cars arrived at the entrance to the Marian shrine of Deir Rafat, dedicated to Our Lady Queen of Palestine. Around 2,500 faithful gathered in this …More
On the last Sunday in October, dozens of buses and cars arrived at the entrance to the Marian shrine of Deir Rafat, dedicated to Our Lady Queen of Palestine. Around 2,500 faithful gathered in this place, rich in Biblical significance and very close to the town of Beit Shemesh, about 20 miles from Jerusalem. Many had come from holy city, especially from Galilee, but also from the Palestinian Territories, particularly from Bethlehem and Ramallah, after gaining special permission from the Israeli authorities.

(Woman with baby)
"My name Manal, I come from Ramallah ... It's an important thing that we Christians from the region celebrate and pray. And just being here together is already a party, because (due to the situation), we lack these opportunities ... ".

During his homily, Bishop Shomali appealed to the faithful to entrust themselves to Mary and urged them to read the Message of the Synod for the Middle East. He insisted on four points: the importance of assiduous reading of the Word of God; the need for greater unity within the Catholic Church in its various expressions; a greater witness to the need to intensify ecumenical dialogue, especially regarding the proposal to merge the Feast of Easter; and finally, an appeal to Christians to leave their isolation behind and open themselves up to dialogue with those of other religions, following the example of Jesus Christ who did not distinguish between people.

At the end of the Mass was a traditional procession and a solemn recollection with the icon and the statue of the Virgin. It was an event of great popular fervor, an opportunity for the people of God living in the Holy Land to show their love for Mary, the privileged daughter of this land.

This shrine is now entrusted to the community of the Sisters of Bethlehem, who live mostly at a monastery near Beit Gemal. The Marian Centre, built some years before 1948 at the initiative of the Latin Patriarch at that time, His Beatitude Luigi Barlassina, welcomed pilgrims and gave them hospitality. It was Msgr. Barlassina who established the feast of Our Lady of Palestine, in order to protect, in a particular way, his native land, far from any political connotations.

Father David Neuhaus, patriarchal vicar for the Hebrew-speaking Catholics: "It's necessary to remember that the feast of Our Lady of Palestine dates back to 1927 when this country was called Palestine. Let us pray to the Virgin because she can intercede for us so that we can bring peace to our countries, Palestine, Israel .... "

Fresh from the Synod as head of the pastoral care of Hebrew-speaking Catholics, Father David tells us that today in Deir Rafat, there are also some members of the Hebrew-speaking Catholic community even if today, Sunday, is a working day ...

Archbishop Giacinto Marcuzzi, Patriarchal Vicar for Israel: "There were quite a few people, from all parts of the Holy Land, from Israel and Palestine ... also from Palestine, which is not so easy or normal because they had to ask permission but thank God many, though not all, received permission to come."

A great and well attended feast for this year's Deir Rafat, a moment of intense ecclesial communion, a week after the conclusion of the Synod, where the Fathers voted that the propositions for the Middle East, and in particular the Holy Land, are totally consecrated to Mary.