March 3-5, 2000
volume 11, no. 45
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Receives Knights of the Order Helping Christians in Holy Land

    VATICAN CITY, MAR 2 (ZENIT).- Once again John Paul II's thoughts turned to the Holy Land this morning, the destination of his forthcoming Jubilee pilgrimage, which will take place from March 20-26. He was given the opportunity during an audience with 3,000 Knights, Dames and ecclesiastics of the Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, whom he received at noon in the General Audience Auditorium, on the occasion of their special Jubilee, from March 1-4.

    "In a few weeks, God willing, I will also have the grace to visit the Holy Sepulcher. Therefore, I will be able to spend some time in prayer in the place where Christ offered his life and took it up again with the resurrection, gifting us with his Spirit. Because of this, I count on your prayers," the Holy Father said.

    In his address, the Pope emphasized the "generous spiritual and charitable commitment" of the Order in favor of the holy places and the Latin Patriarchy of Jerusalem, as well as the "appreciation of the precious heritage of historical testimonies that are kept in the Holy Land." Our technically advance modern society looks to this heritage with new interest, as it is "in need, as never before, of spiritual values and evocations."

    John Paul II mentioned that Pius IX reformed the Order in 1847, "to favor the recomposition of a Catholic community in the Holy Land." That Pontiff restored the Order to "its original function, but with a significant difference: the custody of the tomb of Christ would not be entrusted to the force of arms, but to the valor of a constant testimony of faith and solidarity by Christians resident in the holy places."

    "Today this is still your task," the Pope said to the Knights and Dames, hoping that the celebration of the Jubilee "will help you to grow in assiduous practice of the faith, in exemplary moral conduct and in generous collaboration with ecclesiastical activities."

    In particular, the Pontiff emphasized the need to apply an up-to-date interpretation of their rule of life of singular service: "For you, as for the rest of Christians, it is decisive to rediscover Baptism, the foundation of all Christian existence. This demands a careful in-depth catechetical and Biblical study, a serious review of life and generous apostolic initiative. As a result, you will be open to the world of today without faltering in the spirit of the Order, whose desired renewal depends above all on the personal conversion of each one," the Holy Father stressed.

    The Order of the Holy Sepulcher has 20,000 Knights and Dames, spread throughout the world. At present, they assist with the needs of the Latin Patriarchy of Jerusalem, especially the priests, the patriarchal seminary, and parochial schools, which serve over 15,000 students. They also direct initiatives of a social nature, such as the construction of homes, assistance to schools offering professional training, the granting of loans to promote agricultural activities and craftsmanship.

    The institution was created to defend pilgrims threatened by a myriad dangers in their pilgrimages to the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem in 1099, shortly after the Holy City was conquered by the Crusaders.

    The Knights and Dames will celebrate their Jubilee Mass in Rome on Saturday, March 4, during which the "Wiener Hofmusikkapelle," a chamber orchestra from Vienna, will interpret Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "Coronation Mass" under the baton of Riccardo Muti. ZE00030207


March 3-5, 2000
volume 11, no. 45

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