“Let us not fear, the Holy Spirit is coming upon us.” These are the words that His Beatitude Patriarch Fouad Twal spoke during his homily on the Solemnity of the Annunciation on the 25th of March in the Basilica in Nazareth. It was in this church, where since the earliest times Christians have venerated the young woman who said “yes”, Christians from the Galilee and Jerusalem surrounded the patriarch. The patriarch did not hesitate to express his happiness and to thank “all those who helped prepare this celebration and who accompanied [him] during the solemn entry”.
The previous evening, on the eve of the feast day, the patriarch was received by the guardian of the sanctuary and the priests from the Franciscan parish for Vespers and a prayer vigil in the grotto. His Beatitude then presided over the splendid ceremony and delivered a positive message: “Everything began in peace and will end in peace.” Several times during his homily he noted the suffering of the Christians of the Holy Land and that of their brethren “…in Syria, in Iraq, and also in Egypt, as well as in Nigeria, Central Africa and elsewhere, crushed by war and division. Division is also added to our heartbreak here in Nazareth and in Palestine.” In this year dedicated to the family, he called for unity and determination, the only protection from skepticism and fear. Drawing his strength from “He who crushed evil under his cross and his Resurrection”, His Beatitude confided all the Christians throughout the world, and particularly those of the Holy Land, to Mary and her light.
The general gaiety ended with a procession to the interior of the basilica, where the local choir sang songs dedicated to Mary. The patriarch and parish priests, followed by a large crowd, then went to the front court of the church to bless children and families to the sound of the Scout’s pipe and drum corps. The high point of the sanctuary’s year, the Feast of the Annunciation allows many Christians to renew their “yes” of hope in God, and to again demonstrate their devotion to the most holy Mother of the Church.
Font: Custodia Terrae Sanctae