Today, April 6th, 2005, in the Basilica of the Resurrection of the Lord, in front of the Tomb of the Holy Sepulcher and place of the Resurrection (Anastasis), a Pontifical Solemn Mass was celebrated for the late Pope John Paul II. The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Michel Sabbah, presided at the Holy Mass, with the other Ordinaries of the Holy Land concelebrating with him. In addition to the Custos (Guardian) of the Holy Land, the Most Reverend Pierbattista Pizzaballa, O.F.M., the Franciscan Friars were represente d by the Custodial Vicar, Father Artemio Vitores, O.F.M., and by the President of the Holy Sepulcher, Father Wladyslaw Brzezinski, O.F.M.
In the homily, given by the Father Custos,[LINK] the extraordinary figure of the Pope was remembered: above all Father Pierbattista highlighted some of the moments of the pontificate of John Paul II that had a particular significance for the Church of the Holy Land. In the first place was the meeting with the religious heads of the world in Assisi and the particular ecumenical commitment of the Pope, so important for the relations that we are also living here in the Holy Land with the separated brethren. The Father Custos remembered the meeting of ! the Pontiff with the Jewish Community of Rome in 1986 and with the Muslim representatives of the Mosque of Damascus in 2001, significant events for those of us that live in a socio-religious context divided between the Jews and the Muslims.
Finally, the Father Custos could not forget to mention the pilgrimage that the Pope made in the Holy Land during the Great Jubilee of the year 2000, a sign of love and of the interest of the Pontiff towards this troubled region of the world. Using as a starting point the Holy Site in which the Holy Mass was celebrated, along with the readings of the Mass of the Resurrection (which were sung for this occasion), and remembering the Holy Mass celebrated here by the Holy Father, the Father Custos emphasized that we do not find ourselves united to commemorate a deceased person, but a living person already in Heaven with the Risen Christ.
Participating at the Holy Mass were representatives of all the Orthodox Churches and of the non-catholic ecclesial communities present in Jerusalem, a revealing sign of the esteem and respect that the late Pontiff knew how to attain also outside the catholic circle. At the Eucharistic celebration representing Catholic nations were the Consuls of Italy, France, Spain, and Belgium. Naturally the Amassador of Poland, Jan Wojciech Piekarski, was present, and after the celebration he was welcomed by the Friars at St. Savior’s Monastery.
Web Link: The Holy Father pilgrim in the Holy Land