Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land - 25/03/2000 info: email@example.com
His Holiness Pope John Paul II arrived in Nazareth aboard the military helicopter. He few in from Jerusalem. In Nazareth he was taken to the Sanctuary of the Annunciation in the Popemobil. In this city he was welcomed by thousands who from the wayside waved white and yellow flags. Nazareth is the largest Christian city of the State of Israel. On his arrival at the Basilica of the Annunciation he eased himself towards the Grotto of the Annunciation. He was welcomed by the Franciscan community by the Minister General Br. Giacomo Bini ofm.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE MINISTER'S SPEECH)
After this speech by the Minister General at the lower level of the Basilica, His Holiness went down to the Grotto of the Annunciation passing over the remains of the ancient structures built here since the first centuries by the Judeo-Christian community of Nazareth. Entering inside the grotto he kissed the altar set up there and under which dominate the words "Hic Verbum Caro Factum Est" (Here the Word was made flesh). His Holiness then knelt down in personal prayer and then offered to Our Lady a gold rose as a sign of his love and devotion to the Virgin Mary Mother of God who here accepted her mission to give to the world the Saviour and the Son of God. The Pope then left the Grotto and went to the upper level of the Basilica where the Christian community of Nazareth which filled the modern church built here by Giovanni Muzio awaited for the beginning of the Eucharist singing in Arabic with the local choir.
The site where this monumental Church was built by the Catholics of all the world was not completed when Pope Paul VI visited the Holy Land in 1964. A long applause welcomed His Holiness, an applause which went on even during the opening hymn where the phrases "John Paul II we love you echoed all around". Mass started by His Holiness greetings of "the lord be with you" in Arabic. The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah, introduced the liturgy. The Latin Patriarch is also native of Nazareth. The city of Nazareth, in the words of the Patriarch, asks for a blessing and peace to overcome the conflicts and confrontations between Christians and Moslems and in the name of all those who live here he welcomed all.
His Holiness then introduced the eucharistg by affirming that he "had a great desire to visit Nazareth where the "Fiat" (let it be done) of Mary was heard. Here the Mystery of the Incarnation unfolded when Mary received in her womb the eternal Word of the Father. The Pope also referred to the fact that on this day, the 25th of March, solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord all the Church contemplate this place, this site. He also thanked God for being granted the grace to celebrate here, on this place and on this day, defining it as one of the "supreme moments of the Great Jubilee of the year 2000". He also referred to the fact that Nazareth was the home of the Holy family where Jesus grew in the company of Mary and Joseph. With this he asked the assembly to prepare to celebrate the Eucharist and in it contemplate the Mystery off Salvation.
After the penitential rite the choir sung the Kyrie and Glory on the Gregorian melody of the "Missa de Angelis". The introductory prayer of the feast of the Annunciation was proclaimed and then the readings followed taken from Isaiah (7, 10-14), the letter to the Hebrews (10, 4-10) which preceded the Gospel of Luke (1, 26-38). Then His Holiness delivered his Homily.
(CLICK HERE FOR THE POPE'S HOMILY)
After the Homily the prayers of the faithful were presented in different languages to which the choir replied in Arabic. The offerings followed with the Eucharistic prayer and communion rite. At the end of the Eucharist, after the closing prayer His Holiness prayed the Angelus with the Assembly present. The Pope then handed to representatives of the local Church the acts of the Diocesan Synod which was celebrated last year. The final blessing followed. Then, while the choir sung and the assembly applauded His Holiness was greeted by the authorities of the other Christian Churches present in Nazareth while the local community presented His Holiness with gifts.