08 September 2017

The solemnity of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary was celebrated in Jerusalem

Along with African Missionaries of Africa, or the White Fathers, the Franciscans of the Custody of the Holy Land, celebrated the solemnity of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary at the Church of St. Anne in Jerusalem.

Actuality and events

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The Church all over the world celebrates the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary on September 8th.

According to a tradition, narrated in the apocryphal gospel of St. James, the Virgin Mary was born near the Temple of Jerusalem.

Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers)
“This tradition was gathered by the Church and by the Christians when they were allowed to profess their faith in the fourth century, under the Emperor Constantine.”

In 1192, following a decree issued by Sultan Saladin, the place became inaccessible to Christians. In order to pray inside, therefore, they were forced to access it secretly.

Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers)
“In order to enter, Christians had to go through this window, which consisted of a kind of three-meter-high opening that led to the crypt. They spent the night praying and in the morning, before the sun came up, they had to disappear because the site was belonged to the Muslims.”

Head of the Cultural Heritage Office, Custody of the Holy Land
“For centuries, the friars have come to this place to worship the birthplace of the Virgin Mary. The White Fathers have been here for 150 years, but the friars came before.”

Later on, the Franciscans obtained permission to celebrate here, on the day when the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Birth of the Mother of God.

The tradition is still preserved today. Starting in the morning, the friars processed to the place where, during the Crusader era, a church was dedicated to St. Anne, Jesus’ grandmother.

The mass was presided over by Fr. Stephane Milovitch, a Franciscan from the Custody of the Holy Land, along with various friars and the White Fathers who have been guarding the Church since 1856.

The Franciscans and those present processed, while incensing the grotto where, according to tradition, the Virgin Mary was born.

During his homily, Fr. Teofilo Umba pointed out that Mary is the Queen of Peace and that we too must be promoters of peace.

Franciscan Missionary - Little Cenacle
“Mary always invites us to listen to God’s Word, to keep it in our hearts and to put it into practice. From the time of her conception, her life has been marked by the mystery of God, who comes to meet man and creation. I hope that each of you may [also] celebrate this mystery throughout your life, welcome the Word of God, discern it, contemplate it in your heart, and practice it in your everyday lives.”