The Holy Land has a new Custos: Father Francesco Patton made his official entry into Jerusalem on Monday, June 6, becoming the 168th Custos in charge. According to a secular tradition, the first entry took place through the Jaffa Gate, the place from which pilgrims and visitors had access to the holy city.


Custody of the Holy Land

”This gate will take you to the heart of Jerusalem. The chronicles of pilgrims always speak of this entrance. In the time of the friars, 1335-40, the friars used to be picked up here.”

A large and diversified group of people gathered here: amid the notes of the song “Lauda Jerusalem Dominum” and the sound of festive bells, the crowd processed to the Monastery of St. Savior, the seat of the Custodial Curia.

The kawas of all churches lead the procession, followed by the Franciscan friars and the new Custos, between the visitor Father Jakab Varnai and the Vicar General Father Julio Cesar Bunader, followed by the representatives, the heads of Churches and the general consuls together with the civil authorities and many faithful.

The Custos was greeted at the church of St. Savior by the guardian of the Convent, Father Stéphane Milovitch. After a prayer, the affectionate greeting to the Most Reverend, Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, and the singing of the ‘Te Deum’. The visitor gave a speech of thanks to the outgoing Custos and welcomed the new Custos: “I pray that you take good care of our brothers, to increase their desire to serve the Lord,” Father Jakab added.
Then the reading of the decree and the oath by Father Francesco Patton preceded the official appointment:

“I, Father Varnai Jakab, General Visitor, with the authority granted to me by the General Constitutions, declare you, Father Francesco Patton, legitimately elected as Custos, Guardian of Mount Sion and the Holy Sepulcher. In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

Soon after the Visitor’s official appointment, Father Varnai Jakab handed the seal of the Custody to the new Custos. Following the St. Francis song, Father Francesco Patton took the floor.


Custos of the Holy Land
“I can feel the trepidation in my heart, because I realize that I am a novice in this reality, and I also recognize the complexity and delicacy of the task that I am asked to fulfil. However, I perceive a profound confidence, because I firmly believe that the Lord is our guardian.”

Everyone was touched by the two Custos hugging and the act of fraternal obedience of each Franciscan friar.

After Mass, those present celebrated with Father Patton and Father Pizzaballa at the premises of the Franciscan Curia.


Vicar General
“Pierbattista has always been a brother who was very involved with our reality. Francesco Patton brings his knowledge and excellent background in the order’s ministries, as a Provincial and a ruler. And I believe he will give continuity, with a new and different style, like each of us do, but he will also be a force to strengthen ‘the presence of the Custody and of the friars in the Custody of the Holy Land.”


Custos of the Holy Land
“I put my trust in the friars of the Custody of the Holy Land and I know I can count on their help. I came here for them in the first place and this afternoon, when I remembered the significance of the embrace of peace, I recalled that we receive the hug of peace as a welcoming gesture of brotherhood in our first profession of faith and to me this is like making my vows again, living the gospel in obedience, poverty and chastity in this new fraternity. And from now on, this will be my new fraternity.”

Source: Christian Media Center