The new liturgical calendar of the Custody of the Holy Land has been published this year again for the Franciscan fraternities and for anyone who wants to follow the liturgical life of the Custody and follow the Franciscans in their peregrinations, which mark the memory and the devotion on the places touched by Our Lord Jesus Christ in his earthly life.
The calendar follows the liturgical cycle (B) and starts with the first Sunday of Advent which opens with the solemn entrance of the Custos of the Holy Land into Bethlehem on Saturday 2 December.
Fr. Enrique Bermejo, the Custody’s calendarist
Fr. Enrique Bermejo, liturgist, has been the calendarist of the Custody for more than thirty years and writes and edits the annual printed edition of this fundamental instrument in which the indications of the celebrations of the Masses, of the liturgy of the hours and of the peregrinations can be found.
“The first printed liturgical calendar dates back to 1887,” fr. Enrique emphasizes. “Before this date, the calendars were handwritten, some of which are kept in the archive of the Custody. It can often be noted that the hand of the writer is the same as that of the calendars of the Latin Patriarchate, a detail which shows how the Franciscan liturgists of that period were also requested by the Patriarchate.”
“When I took up the office of calendarist, in 1991, I tried to gradually improve the layout, for example adding spaces so that the user could take note of something for each day, such as the intention of Mass. In 1998, the first edition in colour was finally printed, with photos on the cover and illustrations added in the margins. Since 2004 I have started to look for particular images, such as the icons of the Orthodox Churches of the 13th and 14th centuries, found on Cyprus. These images are a great wealth of the iconographic tradition on the mysteries of Christ and represent a visual pastoral aid to illustrate liturgical feasts. Fr Eugenio Alliata is always helpful in the graphic presentation.”
Icon from the new Arabic prayer book
“Thanks to the suggestions of fr. Claudio Bottini, for this 2023-2024 edition, we have included to add the icons of the new Arabic prayer book of CELRA 2022 (the Conference of Latin Bishops in the Arab Regions). I thank Mrs María Ruiz Rodríguez for her invaluable support in this work. We have also included the images of Jericho and of the Basilicas of Mount Tabor and of Gethsemane, the centenaries of which fall this year.”
A characteristic of this calendar are the indications of those that the Franciscans call “the peregrinations in the shrines: “The peregrinations,” fr. Bermejo continues, “are the feast days of the Franciscan shrines, linked to their dedication. The peregrinations are concentrated in the period of Lent and prepare the mystery of Christ of the Holy Week, an “import ant” time in which the times often change due to the Status Quo. There are also other particularities which concern the coincidences or discordances with the festivities of the Orthodox: for this reason, the different dates are shown at the back of the calendar, to help in particular the Catholic communities of Cyprus, who celebrate Easter with the Orthodox”.
The calendar, the booklets and the desk sheet
The liturgical calendar is published in Latin, but small illustrated booklets (in Italian, English and Spanish) are also available in which the saints are shown with the compulsory memory for the liturgy and the peregrinations, and a desk sheet (Italian and English) to have a schematic and overall view of the whole liturgical year, which is very useful for planning activities.