05 December 2017

Celebrations in Bethlehem mark the Beginning of Advent

In Bethlehem, Advent began with the solemn entrance of the Custos of the Holy Land in the city and with the Christmas tree lighting in the Manger Square.

Liturgies

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This past Saturday, in Bethlehem, the lights of the traditional Christmas tree in the Manger Square, next to the Basilica of the Nativity, were lit!

The big moment was preceded by a celebration that brought together a large crowd.

Vincenzo Bellomo
Pro Terra Sancta Association
"Today's celebration marks the beginning of a very important season. During Advent, Bethlehem is transformed. From today onwards, the attention of the whole world, at least in prayers, is addressed to Bethlehem. This is an important message for us and it is nice to see Bethlehem celebrating. Usually, the name of Bethlehem evokes wars, conflicts and problems. It is time to celebrate and we truly enjoy it!”

The evening was even more animated thanks to the performances of great Arab music singers, who sang traditional Christmas songs.

The Custos of the Holy Land, Father Francesco Patton, briefly greeted those present and blessed the great Christmas symbol!

This celebration is only the beginning of preparation for Christmas, for Jesus' birth which took place exactly here, in Bethlehem and which is celebrated all over the world!

Gloria Nasser
Christian woman from Bethlehem
"Two thousand years ago St. Joseph and Mary came here and there was no room for them; there was only a cave. I say to the Lord: today our heart is your cave, come and visit us, because when we welcome You, our life changes for the better. It is a blessing to be here, in Bethlehem, to be born here. We are all precious to Jesus, but being here now is truly a blessing.”

Maha Nader Jaraiseh
Christian woman from Sahour
"I love this Christmas atmosphere! We never fail to participate in all Christmas events, because Jesus was born here. There is celebration, joy, peace and love. We all feel love and peace before the birth of the Child Jesus.”

Another important event took place on Saturday morning when, following the Tradition, the Custos of the Holy Land solemnly entered the city of Bethlehem.

Father Francesco Patton was warmly welcomed by the people and civil authorities, including the new mayor of the city of Bethlehem.

Anton Salman
Mayor of Bethlehem
"In Bethlehem, the welcoming of the Custos of the Holy Land generally takes place at the beginning of the Christmas preparation, according to the Gregorian calendar. This is an event linked to the religious protocol for the Christmas celebrations.”

Before entering the Basilica of the Nativity through the Humility Gate, Father Francesco Patton was welcomed by the authorities of both the Greek Orthodox and the Armenian Churches, which, together with the Franciscans, guard this Holy Place.

The solemn entrance of the Custos in Bethlehem ended at the Church of St. Catherine, which is located in the Basilica complex. Father Francesco Patton stopped for a moment of prayer before the image of the Patron of the Latin Church of Bethlehem, whose feast is celebrated on this date.

Fr. FRANCESCO PATTON, ofm
Custos of the Holy Land
"The entrance into the Church of St. Catherine usually takes place on the first Sunday of Advent and is a way of saying that we are all called to walk towards Jesus, in anticipation of our encounter with Him. This is, therefore, a beautiful symbol for the whole Christian community, of the expectation of the people of God who await the fulfillment of history. We await His encounter with history.”