About the Holy Land

The Custody of the Holy Land

The presence of the Franciscans in the Holy Land goes back to the very origins of the Order of Friars Minor which, founded by St. Francis of Assisi in 1209, has been open to missionary evangelisation since its origins. The Custody of the Holy Land naturally included the land of Christ’s birth, together with the places where the mystery of our redemption was realised.

The Custody of the Holy land is a presence rooted in the Middle East, that us Christians we call the Holy Land. Since 1342, the Friars Minor are the official guardians of the Holy Places by the desire and at the request of the Universal Church.

Today, the Custody’s apostolate is carried out in the following countries: Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and the islands of Cyprus and Rhodes. Some 300 friars are present in these countries, working in collaboration with about 100 sisters from various congregations. The Franciscans serve the principal shrines of the Redemption, among which the Holy Sepulchre, the Nativity at Bethlehem and the Annunciation at Nazareth hold price of place.

It is a meeting point, a bridge (albeit a shaky one at times) between two cultures, the east and the west. There is no place in the world like Jerusalem, where all the Christian denominations are present. Beyond the obvious difficulties of human relationships, the Holy Land has a unique charm.

Here the Franciscans represent a rich historical presence that, throughout the centuries has learned a great deal through dialogue among Christians. On the inter-religious level, it is a small entity in relationship to the two major presences: Judaism and Islam. The Franciscans take on certain aspects of oriental tradition while managing to communicate something of their own culture.

In the Holy Land, the friars are at the heart of the life of the Church and the world. In spite of limitations due to paucity of personnel and the difficulty of the spoken languages, they still succeed in meeting and accompany pilgrims and the faithful from all parts of the world, and in fruitful discussion with those who do not think as they do.

Holy Land is a fascinating place, a continual challenge. But the greater challenge that the Franciscans are still facing is not to limit themselves to their present material situation, but to hold themselves in an active, critical attitude, always full of evangelical hope.

Pilgrimage

The Commissariat organizes or supports annual pilgrimage projects in view of becoming acquainted with the Christian communities of the Middle East and praying in the major shrines of the Holy Land.
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Commissariat of the Holy Land in Canada

1247 Kilborn Place
Ottawa, Ontario  K1H 6K9
The Offices of the Commissariat are open Monday through Friday,
from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except on statutory holidays.

PHONE: (613) 737-6972
WRITE US: info@commissariat.ca