Jerusalem - The Jubilee Year 2000
(Franciscan Custody Custody of the Holy Land)

The New Millenium awaited and celebrated

Info & pictures by: Enrique Bermejo Cabrera ofm
Click picture to enlarge


The passage to the new millenium was awaited at Gethsemane in front of the illuminated walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, on the other side of Kidron Valley and was welcomed at the Maison d'Abraham on the Mount of Olives. This prayerful and joyful celebration, presided by Fr. Giovanni Battistelli, Custos of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, started at 10.00pm of 31st December 1999. Present were also the Greek Melchite bishop Lufti Laham together with the Armenian and Syrian Catholic bishops. A large number of pilgrims mingled with the local community of the Latin Parish of Jerusalem which was led by the parish priest Fr. George Abu Khazen ofm.

The initial rite and the proclamation of the Word of God took place in the Basilica of the Agony at Gethsemane. Soon after the proclamation of the Word, at 11.10pm, all left in procession from the Church to the Parvis facing Jerusalem. Here a lantern, containing a burning flame which was lit from the the Anastasis (Church of the Resurrection) was brought out by a minister. The light from this flame was distributed to all those present. With the lighted candles and torches all partecipated in the hymns and listened to the Word "The Angel carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. .. I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp." (Rev. 21,10-11,22-23). The reading of John 12, 23-36 followed and after the acclamation the gathering, singing hymns in arabic, italian, spanish and latin, carrying torches in their hands left Gethsemane to climb on Mount of Olives. A cool star-filled night was the backdrop for the last part of the celebration which took part at the Maison d'Abraham. Here a sixteen foot cross was planted in a "Bi-mellenium" platform. Incensed and honoured by those present this cross will remain as a symbol of the beginning of the new Millenium. The celebration came to an end at 11.57pm with the blessing of the Custos. At midnight fireworks were let off to welcome the third christian millenium!

This was a moment of thanksgiving and hope. A celebration in which the mystery of Salvation revealed by Christ became the focal point of the passage between the two millennia: "The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made" (Jn 1,2-3); born of the Virgin mother through the Holy Spirit in the fullness of time; eternal with the Father sends forth his Spirit on a pilgrim Church moving towards the final encounter with the Lord at the end of time. The celebration exhalted also Mary the Mother of God, Mother of the Prince of Peace. She collaborated faithfully with God thus becoming an example for us to express our "yes" to the will of the Father.

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Created / Updated Monday, January 03, 2000 at 22:49:21 by John Abela ofm
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