Guardian, Basilica of the Nativity, Bethlehem
“We are preparing to experience an important moment in the life of the Holy Land with the entry of the new Custos, Fr. Francis Patton … his first assignment is here in this most cherished of places that we have in the Custody, Bethlehem, Jesus’ birthplace. Surely there is a great deal of anticipation …”

On Thursday, June 9, the new Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton, made a solemn tradition-filled entry into Bethlehem.
As is the case on the first Sunday of Advent and on the feast of the Epiphany, the Father Custos, was welcomed by the religious and civil authorities in Manger Square, and he then was accompanied by the friars and local Christians present for the event to the Basilica of the Nativity.

Once they passed through the Door of Humility, the new Custos was welcomed with the Te Deum Laudamus, and he then entered Saint Catherine’s Church, where he stopped to pray before the altar of the Blessed Sacrament.

Guardian, Basilica of the Nativity, Bethlehem
“We know that Fr. Francesco has an open ear and that he is anxious to come to the Palestinian territory for the first time as Custos. On our side, there is also a particular level of sensitivity in showing the Father Custos what reality is like here and what the actual situations are like in our mission here in Bethlehem.”

In his welcome address, in Arabic, the pastor of the Latin Church of St. Catherine highlighted the importance of this moment.

The words of the new Custos, directed to the congregation present, concluded this brief yet powerful liturgy, alongside the small grotto where the Child Jesus was manifested to the world so as to bring all to his kingdom of love, justice and peace.

“Being here today in Bethlehem for me is an occasion of great joy,” – said Br. Patton—the place where the angels invited to us rejoice for Jesus’ birth, the place where the angels reminded us that we are loved by God, the place that reminds us that in Jesus, God came closer to each one of us as our Savior.
(…) May He who was born in this place and who brought to the world God’s smile, bring peace and joy into each one of your lives (…)

Source: Christian Media Center CMC