Bergamo, the homeland of His Beatitude Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, concluded two days of celebration organized for his creation as a Cardinal, yet it was marked by the strong concern for news arriving from the Holy Land.
The main event took place on Saturday, October 7th, 2023, in the city of Bergamo, where the City Council conferred to H.B. Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa the honorary citizenship entitled ‘John XXIII’ (also Pope Roncalli was originally from the province of Bergamo). The award is assigned to personalities who have distinguished themselves in promoting peace and dialogue. The recognition had already been approved months ago before His Holiness Pope Francis announced the Patriarch’s appointment as Cardinal.
The explanatory statement read as follows: “For pastoral action conducted with balance, marked with strategic and diplomatic capacity in the style of Pope John XXIII; For the continuous promotion of dialogue between the forces of the territory, to guarantee the continuous presence of the Christian community in the intricate world of the Holy Land; For the constant commitment to the pursuit of peace among the peoples of different ethnic groups and religions”.
Meanwhile, on Saturday morning, the worrying news of the ongoing violence in the Holy Land began to arrive. In the evening of the same day, H.B. celebrated a mass in the Cathedral of Bergamo together with Mons. Francesco Beschi, the Bishop of Bergamo, and all the representatives of the Diocese. In the presence of the highest local authorities.
The following day, on Sunday, October 8th, the Patriarch made his way to Cologno al Serio, the town where he was born, not far from the city of Bergamo, where he was welcomed at the ancient entrance door. It was followed by a procession, which accompanied the Patriarch to the parish church for the celebration of Mass. Then, H.B. shared lunch with the community, and in the afternoon the procession continued along the streets of the village while holding Madonna del Rosario, to which the community of Cologno al Serio is particularly devoted. The Patriarch’s family was present at all the celebrations, in particular his mother Maria Tadini, his brother Fiorenzo, and both of his nephews Riccardo and Ilaria. A great emotion was displayed by the Patriarch’s mother: “This war was not wanted,” she said. “But he is responsible for the Christian community living there as their pastor and Patriarch, and I understand that he has to go. I thank the country and the parish for welcoming my son so warmly.”
“I am happy to be here in the country where I grew up and, in the church, where I received the sacrament of Baptism,” said H.B Cardinal Pizzaballa. “But my heart is torn in these hours of apprehension concerning what is happening in the land where I live. The last weekdays have been full of celebrations, in Rome, in Bergamo, and here. The diocese of Jerusalem was also in preparation to hold the welcoming celebrations, but now we are experiencing a difficult and painful reality. I hope to be able to leave for the Holy Land as soon as possible.”