October sees many pilgrims in the Holy Land despite some fears

Richard SontagHoly Land

The month of October in the Holy Land culminated with a very positive outcome: countless groups have visited the holy places.

Fr. BRUNO VARRIANO, ofm
Guardian-Rector of the Basilica of the Annunciation – Nazareth
“It is interesting, because we–who have been living here for more than twenty years– have never seen the Holy Land experience such hardship as with this conflict, but the pilgrims keep coming. Nazareth is crowded, the Sepulcher is packed and there are also many pilgrims in Bethlehem. ”

The clergy of the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, took part in a spiritual retreat in the Holy Land together with Father Bruno Varriano, Guardian-Rector of the Basilica of the Annunciation.

Fr. BRUNO VARRIANO, ofm
Guardian-Rector of the Basilica of the Annunciation – Nazareth
“We, the priests and the bishop, are experiencing the land of redemption. Thence this journey renews the priesthood, and the priests will go back to the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro renewed, bringing back to Brazil the revival of the proclamation of the Risen.”

This is a special time of grace for the clergy and for Mons. Luis Henrique, Bishop of the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro, who is visiting the Holy Land for the first time.

MONS. LUIZ HENRIQUE DA SILVA BRITO
Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Rio
“It is our first time here and therefore a very exciting journey for us Christians, and also for me as a bishop of the Catholic Church. It is wonderful to be able to participate in a retreat along with brother priests of the clergy of Rio de Janeiro, in this land so blessed and special, which is now experiencing such hardships. We have sensed and perceived the pilgrims’ faith; the Holy Land is blessed with the faithful who come to pray, to give thanks and to praise God. Christians’ faith, confidence and courage are very uplifting aspects of this spiritual journey.”

“Every holy place has its own spirituality and, in order to renew the priestly ministry, there is nothing better than to follow the steps of Jesus in his ministerial life, until the culmination of his mission on earth, that is the resurrection”

The retreat’s first stop took place in Nazareth: many pilgrims visited the places of Jesus’ public life in Galilee and prayed there.

The second portion of the retreat was the ascent to Jerusalem, which included a visit to the shrines of the Passion and Resurrection of the Lord. Pilgrims were also able to visit Bethlehem and Ein Karem. The solemn entry into the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher was the highlight of the day.

Inside the Basilica, the group was welcomed by the Franciscan friars near the Stone of Unction, where Jesus’ body was anointed, according to tradition.
The retreat group was then able to pray in the Holy Sepulcher, accompanied by the singing of the ‘Te Deum’