Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas in the Holy Land

Franciscan Pierbattista Pizzaballa is the Custodian of the Holy Land.

He’s the person in charge of caring for the places where Jesus lived. He has custody over the Holy Sepulcher, the Calvary and of course the grotto in Bethlehem.

Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa - “The Lord is the custodian, I am only an instrument in His hands. An instruments that wants to keep the memories and the living testimony. To be a custodian means being a testimony in that place that has a significant meaning for the world.”

This church is built over the grotto in Bethlehem. It’s where St. Joseph and Mary took refuge and where Jesus was born. A star marks the spot where the Virgin Mary placed the child. This Christmas pilgrims will line up for miles to visit.

“Christmas in the Holy Land is a very big experience, for everyone. It’s always something new.”

It’s been two thousand years since St. Joseph and the Virgin had to escape their homeland because Herod was persecuting them. Today many Christians feel obligated to leave too. Christians who live in the Holy Land don’t see a bright future in store for them or their families.

If Christians continue to flee at this rate, some estimate in a matter of years, there won’t be any Christians living here.

Christians in the Holy Land are pleading for help. The majority of them rely on tourism to survive. Israel and Palestine assure the Holy Places are safe for tourists. That’s why Catholics urge other Christians to visit to get a first hand look at the living conditions in the Holy Land.

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