In order to better understand the history of how the Frankish clergy returned to the Holy Places in the Fourteenth Century for the purpose of maintaining the Sacred Sites and celebrating the Roman Liturgy, it is necessary to give a brief review of the history of the preceding centuries. This review will begin with the death of our Lord and continue up to the loss of the Crusader Kingdom of the Holy Land which occured when the Egyptian Mameluke Arabs occupied the city of Acre in 1291.
This history predates the Custody of the Holy Land (1333). The Crusader Period (1099-1291) is especially important. The next epoch (1291-1517) concerns the diplomatic overtures of several European governments which hoped to liberate the Sanctuaries of the Holy Land. Whereas the Crusaders tried to accomplish this liberation militarily, these government officials tried another means, namely, the peaceful means of bilateral agreements and legal contracts.
Even though this peaceful means failed to obtain all that the Franks had lost in the preceding century, they did reach a satisfying result: the "Frankish or Latin" clergy, represented by the Franciscan Religious, were able to enter into and officiate in four principal Sanctuaries. Various Eastern Rites also gained privileges in these Sanctuaries as a result of these accords. Considering the political circumstances of the times and the unlimited hostility of the past, this was a major accomplishment.