A million rosaries made by Christian artisans of Bethlehem have been destined as gifts to the participants in the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day (WYD) that kicks off on Tuesday in Panama City.
The initiative of the Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), is to support the Christian community of the town of Jesus’ birth, whose Christian presence has diminished considerably because of economic hardships.
“This initiative is essential because on the one hand it encourages prayer and on the other hand it helps support our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land,” said Archbishop José Domingo Ulloa Mendieta of Panama, commenting on the ACN project.
ACN has contributed 100,000 Euros for the million rosaries destined for the young people attending the WYD, January 22-27, which Pope Francis is joining on Wednesday.
The rosaries made by Bethlehem’s Christian craftsmen are in tune with the Marian theme of the Panama WYD: “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38).
Hard-pressed Bethlehem Christians
“Already a precious gift in themselves, the WYD rosaries have an added appeal because they are made by Christian craftsmen in Bethlehem, who through this project have received the much-needed help to support the Christian presence in the town where Jesus was born,” said Alessandro Monteduro, the director of ACN-Italy.
Because of economic difficulties and high unemployment among Christians who are mostly in the tourism sector that is hit by a growing crisis, more than 350,000 Christians have abandoned Bethlehem in the last 70 years. The production of sacred items appears to be the only viable form of livelihood.
Monteduro explained that the art of making artefacts in mother-of-pearl or olive wood that was brought to the Holy Land by the Franciscan fathers in the fifteenth century is a very important economic support for local Christians who also express their faith through their craft.
The approximately 200 families in Bethlehem who have worked for months in making the million rosaries for WYD will be supported for an entire year. “They are grateful for the support they have received, but above all, they are happy to know that hundreds of thousands of young people in Panama will use the rosaries to pray for peace,” Monteduro said.
ACN and WYD
As in previous WYDs, this year too ACN has supported a few projects for the Panama event. It has destined 430,000 Euros for the distribution of thousands of copies of the “Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church” (Youcat) and the “Social teaching of the Catholic Church” (Docat) in different languages and financed travel expenses for young people from dioceses in difficulty.
Aid to the Church in Need is an international pontifical Catholic charity and foundation that helps persecuted Christians worldwide.
By: Robin Gomes
Source: Vatican News