Diocese of Arezzo-Cortona-Sansepolcro strengthens ties with the Latin Patriarchate
At the beginning of August a group of about 50 young people from the Diocese of Arezzo-Cortona-Sansepolcro came to the Holy Land on a pilgrimage. Archbishop Riccardo Fontana accompanied the group in the true style of pilgrims and in the signs of hospitality, generosity, simplicity and sharing.
It was not the classic pilgrimage but the encounter with the Risen Christ who still lives in the communities and in the living stones of this land. The guide was the Word of God that was broken open with wisdom and understanding by Don Andrea Lombardi and Archbishop Fontana. It was a unique experience that deeply touched the hearts of the young pilgrims.
In Nazareth, the Italian boys were warmly welcomed by the families of the parish of Jaffa. Abuna Elias and his community opened the doors of their homes to welcome the young people and to let them enjoy the typical oriental hospitality and generosity of our people. In Beit Sahour, boys were welcomed in the reception facility, fixed up for the occasion by the parish priest Abuna Aziz to become the Pastoral Centre for Youth of Palestine. The pilgrims were able to meet the young Palestinian Christians, talk with them, play with them and understand their difficulties and their suffering.
The bond that unites the Diocese of Arezzo-Cortona-Sansepolcro with Jerusalem is rooted in history. The town of Sansepolcro is celebrating the Millennium of its Cathedral and the birth of the city, founded by two pilgrims, Arcano and Egidio who returned from the Holy Land bringing with them the relics of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. Around the cult of relics was founded a theological project, the civitas (city-state) which still retains the name and history of its relationship with the Holy City.
Even Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to Sansepolcro on May 13 stressed the importance of the partnership between the two dioceses: “We thank God that your diocesan community has developed over the centuries an ardent missionary outreach, as is witnessed by the partnership with the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. I was pleased that it has brought the fruits of collaboration and works of charity in favor of the neediest brothers and sisters in the Holy Land. The old links led your ancestors to build here a copy in stone of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, to make firm the identity of the people and to keep alive the devotion and prayer to the Holy City. This bond continues and causes that everything to do with the Holy Land is perceived by you as a reality that involves you; how on the other hand, in Jerusalem, your name and the presence of pilgrims from the Diocese, make active fraternal relations. In this regard, I am sure that you will open up new perspectives of solidarity, giving a renewed apostolic zeal in the service of the Gospel. This will be one of the most significant results of the Jubilee celebrations of your city. ”
The pilgrimage concluded with a visit to His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, who in 2010 signed in Arezzo the twinning/partnership between the two dioceses. It was a solemn moment which ratified the friendship between the two churches, which will have its continuation on October 20 and 21 this year when the Patriarch, once again will visit the ancient and illustrious Arezzo, Cortona and Biturgense Church to honor with his presence the Millennium celebrations and strengthen this communion of faith, hope and charity.
Don Mario Cornioli