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HIS BEATITUDE IRENEOS I, GREEK ORTHODOX PATRIARCH, EXTENDS CHRISTMAS GREETINGS TO THE HOLY LAND CUSTOS, FATHER PIERBATTISTA PIZZABALLA

Date: 27.12.2004
Source: Custody of the Holy Land

H.B. Ireneos I
the Greek-Orthodox Patriarch

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It is a tradition that, every year, the Patriarchs of Jerusalem come to give the Christmas greetings to the Father Custos of the Holy Land at Saint Saviour Monastery, which is the friary of the Franciscan fraternity.

On 26th December, feast of Saint Stephen, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Michel Sabbah, came together with some members of the Patriarchate to visit the Father Custos on the occasion of the Christmas festivities. At the same time he extended his greetings to the Francsican fraternity of Saint Saviour’s Monastery in the divan or recreation hall of the same friary. Afterwards he visited the sick and elderly friars residing in the infirmary of the Custody in the same friary.

Today, at 8.40 a.m. the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Ireneos, accompanied by a numerous group of Orthodox monks, came for an official visit to the Custos of the Holy Land Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa OFM, to extend the Christmas greetings of the Greek Orthodox community to the Franciscans of the Holy Land.
The traditional meeting, programmed according to an ancient ceremonial of Jerusalem, this year has taken a particular significance. Recent events had created tensions between the two communities.
This visit had the aim to get over these tensions and provide a sign of unity and brotherhood to all the population of Jerusalem.
The Custos introduced the meeting, and underlined the fact that in this Christmas season all Christians should give witness in a stronger way regarding the need for peace and reconciliation. The problems between the two communities should not make them forget the many common aspects in their lives, the common visions and the sense of brotherhood which should reign between them. He then underlined the necessity of giving a Christian witness in the way the two communities behave towards one another.
The Patriarch answered by stating that, for many centuries, the two communities have lived together in collaboration, and that they should insist on those aspects which unite them.
The Custos then gave to the Greek Orthodox Patriarch a gift from the Custody, a beautiful crib in mother of pearl, as a concrete sign of his friendship.
The meeting concluded as usual with songs on the part of the two communities and the traditional kiss of peace.

After the visit of the Greek Orthodox, at 10.30 a.m., it was the turn of the Armenian Orthodox Patriarch, His Beatitude Archbishop Torkom Manoogian. He arrived with his retinue of monks and saluted the Father Custos and the friars of the Custody of the Holy Land. The two religious leaders had cordial words to exchange in their speeches, and then they passed on to more familiar conversations. As Patriarch Torkom is a keen lover of music, he spoke about the exchange of melodies between the two communities in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre. This was a sign of mutual appreciation.

The morning was planned to conclude also with the courtesy visit of the Syrian and Coptic Communities to the Father Custos. On the part of the Cops the delegation was led by His Grace the Archbishop Dr. Anba Abraham, while that of the Syrians by the Archimandrita Father Simon.

Visit of the Latin Patriarch:
H.B. Michel Sabbah
Visit of the Armenian Patriarch:
H.B. Torkom Manoogian
Visit of the Coptic and
Syrian Communities


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