With the celebration of Ash Wednesday, Lent began in Jerusalem. As has been tradition for centuries, the prayers that highlight the Sundays during this time of preparation for Easter have also begun. On Saturday and Sunday during every weekend of Lent, the Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Land organize the solemn entrance of the Latin Patriarch followed by the daily procession, the night vigil and the celebration of holy mass.
On February 17, the Franciscans, as representatives of the Status Quo for the Catholic Church, went to the Latin Patriarchate to invite Mons. Pizzaballa to make his solemn entrance into the Holy Sepulcher. The Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem thus arrived at the Basilica of the Resurrection at 2 p.m., where he then presided over the solemn procession.
As guardians of the Holy Places, the Franciscans also have the task of keeping the shrines alive with prayer. For this reason, just as they do every day, they covered the entire Holy Sepulcher in stages for the procession. Fourteen stops were made, from the altar of the Blessed Sacrament to the point where Jesus appeared to Mary. When they arrived at the Sepulcher, the place of the resurrection was venerated with three rounds made around the Holy Edicule.
The vicar of the Custody of the Holy Land, Fr. Dobromir Jasztal, and the president of the fraternity of the Holy Sepulcher, Br. Zacheusz Drazek, as well as many faithful and religious, were present at the celebrations for the first week of Lent.
In the place of Jesus’ Resurrection, it is always Easter: this is why it was possible to sing “Alleluia,” which is not done during Lent in any other parts of the world. It is a joy that is maintained even during a time of desert and that all of the churches in the Holy Sepulcher share. In 2018, they will not celebrate Easter on the same day, like last year, but the prayer of each Church will be one in the hope of salvation itself.
The Saturday night vigil and the solemn mass on Sunday were also attended by the faithful present, as well as locals and pilgrims, during the Lenten season. This is the first stage of a journey that will lead to Easter, on April 1.