On Tuesday, October 17, 2017, the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land initiated a cycle of conferences to mark the 800 years of Franciscan presence in the Holy Land.

franciscans 800

In the presence of the representatives of the Churches of Jerusalem, the consul generals and the political authorities, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches in the Holy See, gave the first conference, entitled, “Always preach the Gospel, and if it is necessary preach it also with your words! The Franciscan Presence in the Holy Land and in the Middle East”. He bore homage to the centuries of Franciscan presence and underlined the ongoing fidelity and service of the Franciscans in today’s troubled Middle East.

Other conferences focused on the figure of Brother Elias of Cortona, the successor of Saint Francis and the one who formally established the Franciscans in the Holy Land. Elias was sent in 1217 as head of a group of missionaries to Palestine, and two years later he became the first provincial of the then extensive province of Syria.

Dr. Emmanuelle Main, lecturer in history and member of the Jerusalem kehillah, was also one of the speakers.