Francis writes a letter to mark the 600th anniversary of the mission of the Commissaries of the Holy Land who through their dedication enable “a network of ecclesial, spiritual and charitable relations that have as their focal point the land where Jesus lived”.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – We must “support, promote and enhance the mission of the Custody of the Holy Land,” Pope Francis affirms in a letter sent to the Custos of the Holy Land, Fra Francesco Patton.
The papal message was sent to mark six centuries of the mission of the Commissaries of the Holy Land whose dedication to their cause enable “a network of ecclesial, spiritual and charitable relations that have as their focal point the land where Jesus lived”.
On February 14 the Franciscan religious whose mission is at the service of the Holy Land celebrate a 600-year milestone. Francis writes to them: “I support and bless this precious service and I hope that it will be ever more a seed of fraternity”.
Established in 1421 by Pope Martin V with the bull “His quae pro ecclesiasticarum”, the Commissariats of the Holy Land were created to support the missions in the birth place of Jesus and to procure economic aid for the Holy Land. It is from this mission that the figure of the procurator was born, and later that of the commissioner.
The Franciscans, charged with the Custody of the Holy Land, initially gave laymen the responsibility for “procuring” economic support for the Holy Land. This gave rise to the position of the “procurator”, the forerunner of the Commissar. Over the centuries, the laity were gradually replaced by Franciscan friars and today all the commissaries of the Holy Land are appointed by their territorial superior, after consultation with the Custos of the Holy Land.They represent a bridge between the mission of the Holy Land and the local churches, and they reassert the importance of support for the Holy Land with the “Collecta pro Locis Sanctis,” which was established by Pope Leo XIII on 26 December 1887 and is taken up each year on Good Friday.
Currently, there are 67 Commissariats of the Holy Land, distributed in 60 nations of the world. On February 15, at 6.30, at the Aedicule of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, will celebrate the Eucharist in thanksgiving and in memory of all the benefactors of the Holy Land.