2009-2010 Report of Custody of the Holy Land

Friars Continue Supporting Holy Places, Christian Community

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 21, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is the report for 2009-2010 of the projects completed by the Custody of the Holy Land of the Order of Friars Minor.

The Vatican press office published the report today in conjunction with an appeal from Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, to support the Good Friday Collection for the Holy Land.

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The Custody of the Holy Land continues incessantly its path for the protection and preservation of the Holy Places in Jesus’ Land. Its mission is to keep alive the liturgy in the places of worship, to take care of pilgrims, to enhance apostolic works, and support the Christian Community; for these reasons, in the years 2009/2010 the Custody gave special attention to the planning and the fulfillment of the following projects:

I. Holy Places — Pilgrims

1. Ain Karem — Sanctuary of St. John the Baptist (the sanctuary commemorates the birthplace of St. John Baptist).

Construction of the surrounding wall, for an overall total of 340 meters (1,115 feet), to limit the perimeter of the property of the Custody.

2. Bethany — The Sanctuary of Bethany (the Sanctuary was built next to Tomb of Lazarus).

The project was divided into two parts: renovation of the sanctuary and construction of the new garage.

3. Bethlehem — St. Catherine’s Parish Church (St. Catherine’s Church, adjoining the Grotto of the Nativity).

End of the project of renovation of the lighting system inside St. Catherine’s Church.

Perpetuation of the restoration works, in the rooms of Casa Nova Pilgrim House, due to the increasing number of pilgrims visiting Bethlehem.

4. Jerusalem

— St. Saviour Monastery (location of the Custody of the Holy Land and the seminary).

The project includes the rehabilitation of the Theological Study, the restoration of some areas of the convent.

— Dominus Flevit Sanctuary

Final phase of the restructuring plan of the Convent of Dominus Flevit, of the shrine, the gardens and the spaces dedicated to the reception of pilgrims

— Sanctuary of the Flagellation: Studium Biblicum Francescanum

Restoration of the “Hall of the Crusaders”, at the Sanctuary of the Flagellation.

Enlargement of the Library of the Studium Biblicum Francescanum. The project includes also the installation of an elevator to facilitate the access to disabled people.

5. Magdala — Church of Mary Magdalene (Al-Majdal, identified with the site of the ancient town of Magdala, reputed to be the birthplace of Mary Magdalene).

Perpetuation of the preservation works in the archeological site of Magdala, where important archeological remains have been found. It was necessary to remove the mosaic pavements, which from now on should be protected against the elements. Over the site is under construction visitor route, in order to make pilgrims understand the day life of the city in the time of Jesus.

6. Jaffa — St. Anthony’s Church

Final phase of the restoration of the whole convent and of the rooms of the Latin Parish.

7. Mount Tabor — Sanctuary of the Transfiguration (where the Transfiguration of Christ took place).

Designing of the project of restoration of the Shrine of the Transfiguration at Mount Tabor.

8. Nain — Nain’s Sanctuary (Jesus resurrected a young man).

Designing of the project of restoration of the Shrine that commemorates the Miracle of the resurrection of the widow’s son. Only recently the Custody has got back the full possession of the area.

Demolition of the buildings surrounding the Church, to allow the startup of the project of reconstruction of the Convent for the Nuns.

9. Tabga — Sanctuary of the Primacy of St. Peter

Construction of new sanitary facilities and other restoration works at the Shrine of the Primacy of St. Peter.

10. Mount Nebo (Jordan) — Moses Memorial Sanctuary (Memorial of Moses).

Second phase of the works of reconstruction and conservation of the mosaics at the Memorial Shrine of Moses the Prophet.

Second phase of the construction of the new Basilica of the Memorial.

11. Gethsemane

Final phase of the recreation of the Kidron Valley, for the reception of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.

II. Holy Places — Local Community

1. Works in favor of youth

Scholarships. Funding system for 360 four-year university scholarships. The facilitations are divided between different universities: Bethlehem, Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Haifa, Bir Zeit, Amman and others.

Craftsman’s laboratories. The project is made to support 10 small craft businesses by the purchase of spare parts, equipments, devices to improve the security measures.

2. Activities in favor of families


Development of the Family Counseling Parish project that supports the main needs that families can have.

Franciscan Children’s House. Perpetuation of the project dedicated to more than 20 youth between 6 and 12 years old, coming from poor families or with different kind of troubles. A youth worker, a social worker and a psychologist are available to receive and assist them.

Medical Assistance. Development of this project that aims to ensure medical assistance to families in financial straits, by providing a partial or total coverage of medical expenses.

Housing project. Rehabilitation of the houses belonging to families in need. The restoration is done by unemployed workers. Besides helping the families, we guarantee periodically many working places.

3. Parish Communities

Jerusalem: Conclusion of the rebuilding of the Church of S. James in Beit Hanina, perpetuation of the works of construction of different areas dedicated to sport activities in the Parish center, such as: a soccer field, 2 basketball courts and a swimming pool.

Nazareth: Realization of football fields and playground areas, for the children of the Parish center in Nazareth.

Cana: Designing and preparation of a project for the construction of a Parish center and a school. Structures not available at the present, but deeply wished by the local community.

Jericho: Construction of the Parish Hall adjoining the Shrine of the Good Shepherd.

4. Schools

Ramleh: Expansion and rehabilitation of the existing spaces of the school

Bethlehem: Planning and development of the project of building a theatre at the Saint Joseph Terra Sancta Girls School.

Jericho: Second phase of the building of a new school, bigger than the former, to face the increasing number of requests.

Jordan: Project for the construction of a sport centre at the Terra Santa School of Amman.

5. Housing development for poor and for young couples

Beit Fagi:  Last phase of the housing development project S. Francis-Beit Fagi. Here and now have been assigned 69 apartments to the Christian families of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem: Rehabilitation of about 70 houses located in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Bethlehem: Perpetuation of the rehabilitation and maintenance of the houses for the poor owned by the Custody.

Jaffa: The Franciscan Neighborhood. Housing development project, for 124 apartments for the Christian families of the Parish.

Nazareth: Housing Project in Nazareth. Project for the construction of a residential complex. Besides the construction of a Chapel and different social areas, will be constructed about 80 apartments for young families.

6. Other Cultural Activities

Every year the Custody of the Holy Land supports the Faculty of Biblical Science and Archeology of the Studium Biblicum Francescanum of Jerusalem. The Custody provides to 30 students coming from different Dioceses, scholarships for the duration of all the studies.

Franciscan Media Center. A new way of communication through an updated web site that, with the support of television networks, aims to broadcasts all the events related to the Holy Places and the local community.

Magnificat. In a few years of activity, the Magnificat has become a school of music that prepare youth coming from different cultures. Magnificat institute advance research activities and promote cultural events both at local and international level.

In addition to the works developed and planned for the Holy Land, must be mentioned also the other action taken in Syria and Lebanon. Such as: Completion of the restoration of the Parish Church at Saint Francis convent in Aleppo and conclusion of the renovation works in Tripoli’s Convent.

[Adapted by ZENIT]

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