Portugal Lieutenancy Holy Land Pilgrimage during Papal visit
In 2009, in response to a call of His Holiness Benedict XVI that the Order be present, the Lieutenancy of Portugal participated with nine members. Five years later, at the same venue for His Holiness Pope Francis, there were twenty-six participants, including sixteen Knights and Dames led by their Lieutenant.
It is with deep emotion and profound joy that the Portuguese delegation attended Mass presided by Holy Father Francis, May 25, in Manger Square that was attended by eight thousand participants, mostly Christian Palestinians.
The Eucharist was concelebrated by, among other prelates, His Beatitude, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, the Grand Master of the Order, His Eminence, Cardinal Edwin F. O’Brien and His Excellency Most Reverend Bishop William Shomali. In attendance, in addition to many individuals, and with significant importance was the President of the Palestinian Authority. The Order of the Holy Sepulchre was represented by H.E. Governor-General, Count Agostino Borromeo; the Lieutenant of England and Wales; the Lieutenant Portugal; and a Brazilian couple living in Palestine, Henrique and Carola Abreu, as well as many Knights and Dames of Portugal, Tyrrhenian Italy, Germany France and Jerusalem.
The Portuguese pilgrimage was characterized, as always, by a strong spiritual dimension, thanks to the Master of Ceremonies, Father Miguel Aguiar. The pilgrimage began notably with prayer in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre. A Mass was celebrated in the afternoon in the Co-Cathedral of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
On Saturday 24th, after the Way of the Cross, which was completed on Golgotha, a Mass was celebrated in the Franciscan chapel of St. Mary Magdalene inside the Holy Sepulchre. The afternoon was devoted to visiting the Mount of Olives and Mount Zion. After a visit to the Church of St. Peter Gallicantu, a rosary was recited and sung by the sisters from Correia de Campos, who formed part of the group of Portuguese pilgrims, in the Abbey of the Dormition. The Abbey, that very day, was the victim of arson.
On May 26, after attending a Mass in the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, celebrated by Father Miguel and Fra Anísio, OFM, the group of pilgrims left for Taybeh (Biblical Ephraim) a Palestinian city inhabited exclusively by Christians. The Knights and Dames and other members of the group were fraternally received by the Pastor of the local parish, Father Aziz Halaweh and by Henrique Abreu, the leader of this visit. The delegation was welcomed by both hosts, and Father Aziz who, fluent in Portuguese, explained the situation of the city and its people, its remarkable social projects (a retirement home and support for children), its industrial (such as Taybeh Brewery), its commercial (such as the famous Dove of Peace) and, naturally, its religious activities.
After a visit to a retirement home and a convivial moment with the local population, the Portuguese pilgrims prayed the rosary and attended the 6:00pm Mass with their Palestinian brethren. And, unexpectedly, the Mass was celebrated in Arabic and Portuguese. This celebration began with the Portuguese “Ave Maria de Fátima” hymn sung in Arabic, which was a moment of deep emotion for all Portuguese present. At the end of the Mass, and after a moment of sharing with the people of the city, the group visited sites of great historical interest.
The last day, May 27, before returning to Portugal, the pilgrims visited the new Shrine of Our Lady Queen of Palestine, Deir Rafat, where, after the celebration of Mass, a very nice breakfast was offered by the Religious Sisters of Bethlehem who shared their joy with all present. We note that these brave sisters have faced in the front line, physical threats and vandalism that are regularly done by extremist religious groups against the Shrine of the Patron of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The pilgrimage ended with a visit to the Church of St. Peter in Tel Aviv.
This unforgettable pilgrimage was also an opportunity to establish important contacts, including Taybeh or Franciscans making ready the visit of young Portuguese volunteers who, during their school holidays, wish to volunteer their time helping the works of the Holy Land and supporting Christian communities.
Lieutenancy of Portugal