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Franciscan Friary
St. Francis Str. 1

The Custody
is present in:
Israel / Palestine

Buenos Aires

in various
all around
the world

The role of the Custos for the Holy Land

The Custos of the Holy Land is the Minister Provincial (i.e. the major superior) of the Friars Minor living in the whole Middle East. He has jurisdiction over the territories of Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt (partially), Cyprus and Rhodes without counting the numerous houses (Commissariats) in various parts of the world (worth mentioning those of Rome and Washington).

The main task of the Custos, besides animating the life of he friars, is to coordinate and direct the reception of pilgrims who come over to the Holy Land in pilgrimage and pray at the shrines of our Redemption.

Such a task was handed out by the Holy See more than 600 years ago. The term used at those times to designate this task was "custody" of the holy places from which derived the terms still in use "Custody" and "Custos".

The first and most important role of the Custos therefore is to receive the pilgrims at the Holy Shrines, offering them spaces and the possibility to pray while caring to give shelter even to those who cannot afford to use expensive hotels. At the same time the pilgrims are offered the possibility to find the friars who are ready to receive and hear them. All the catholic Christian sanctuaries are under his jurisdiction. He sees to it that enough economical support is given to fulfill this most important function at these holy places.

Another mission which the Custos undertakes when he takes office is to coordinate the information about the Holy Land and instill in the Christians of the world the "loving care" for these sites: archaeological excavations at the holy places, publication of ancient pilgrimages and above all the study of the bible through geography and history of he same sites where the events took place. For this reason the Custody has set up the SBF, FAI, FPP etc.. All this activity depends mainly on the Custos who even sponsors such initiatives.

Another important task the Custos undertakes is to care and sustain, in agreement with the local church, the Christian presence in the Holy Land by various initiatives, amongst which we can mention schools and parishes.

All these initiatives clearly require not only the moral support of Christians throughout the world but also an economical one. It is for this reason that during the centuries various "Commissariats of the Holy Land" were set up throughout the world to foster the awareness about the friars living in the Holy Land and at the same time make collections to help sustain the work of the Custody. All these Commissariats (and they are many) depend directly from the Custos.

Given the important role of the Custos he is not elected like all the other Ministers Provincial of the Order. He is directly nominated by the Holy See after a consultation with the friars of the Custody and the presentation made by the Order's governing body.

In the Holy Land Custos is considered as one of the main Christian religious authorities. He, together with the Greek Orthodox Patriarch and the Armenian Orthodox Patriarch , is responsible of the Status Quo, the code which regulates life at the Holy Sepulchre and Bethlehem.

By right he forms part of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land (the Bishops of the local catholic church).

  Custody Main


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Created / Updated Saturday, May 15, 2004 at 12:58:31 by John Abela ofm
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