Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land - 23/03/2000 info: email@example.com
in the Holy Cenacle
Jerusalem, March 23, 2000
For many of us the Pope's celebration of the Eucharist at the site of the Holy Cenacle is just another passage in this pilgrimage of the Holy Father in the Holy Land. But this is much more. It not only is full of meaning and spiritual dimensions but it even has an historic dimension. At this site the Church commemorates the institution of the Holy Eucharist and of the priesthood, the meeting of the Apostles with the Risen Christ, the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles on the day of Pentecost. I said that this event has also a historic dimension. Yes because the site where Pope John Paul celebrated is not a Church, or better still, it is a chapel which has not been used for the celebration of the eucharist for many years and centuries. The franciscans has been sent out of this chapel in 1551 and ever since only private prayer was allowed. Not even Pope Paul VI celebrated here. He only came and knelt down in prayer. The Pope's celebration here breaks new ground. The building belongs to the Franciscans because here they had their first friary built on the site where the mother church of Jerusalem had its place of meeting and its place of prayer. Today the Franciscans can pray publicly at this site only on Maundy Thursday and Pentecost. That is why this is an historic moment in the Pope's pilgrimage. His Holiness arrived at the Cenacle area and was "hoisted" to the Upper Room by a special lift installed for the occasion. Only a restricted number of concelebrants and the service people were allowed in. Among the concelebrants there were a number of bishops together with the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, the Custos of the Holy Land and the Minister General of the Franciscan Order.