The “Luigi Padovese” award for Christians in “hardship-stricken” lands went to the Custody of the Holy Land. The award in memory of the bishop who was murdered in Turkey was conferred in Bibione, Italy, on August 9 in a ceremony at the parish of Santa Maria Assunta.
On the 800th anniversary of Franciscan presence in the Holy Land, “the Custody was awarded for being present in a land where Christians are the minority,” explained Fr. Francesco Patton. “And he was recognized for his commitment to safeguarding Christians by taking care of its places and people.” The parish of Bibione, which in the winter only includes a few hundred faithful, is a point of reference in the summer for 200,000 people. Within the series of events scheduled for the summer, the evening of August 9, was entirely dedicated to the Holy Land.
At the beginning of the ceremony, the life of Mons. Luigi Padovese, was reviewed in the presence of some of his family members. The Capuchin bishop from Milan, who was also the Anatolian Vicar of Anatolia and president of the Turkish Bishops’ Conference, was killed in Iskenderun, Turkey, on June 3, 2010, by his own driver. Following a video about the 800-year Franciscan presence in the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton spoke about the Custody’s commitment and about the importance of dialogue. The award consisted of an offer to be devoted to the activities that the Custody is currently undertaking. “The church was full and people seemed interested in welcoming the Custody, and they asked many questions at the end of the ceremony,” said Fr. Francesco.
On August 10, the Custos was also a guest at Motta di Livenza, where a popular Franciscan shrine is located. There he still talked about the 800-year Franciscan presence in the Holy Land and he invited them to come on pilgrimage. Afterwards, there was time for questions. “People are always scared about safety, but coming on pilgrimage to the Holy Land does not mean putting one’s life at risk,” said Fr. Patton. “There is a lot of curiosity about Syria, and about the relationships between Christianity, Judaism and Islam.”
The event during which the “Luigi Padovese” award was conferred was the initiative of the “Perdonanza Bibionese,” approved by the Apostolic Penitentiary at the end of last year’s Mercy Jubilee. A plenary indulgence of all sins will be granted to pilgrims who visit the Parish Church of Bibione, dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, from August 1 to 16 every year, as long as they have met the usual conditions for obtaining it. “The friars and the nuns of the Eastern Churches [often] suffer ‘useless assaults,’,” said Cardinal Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, on the opening of the Holy Door. These were partially caused by another time when the powerful of the earth became deaf to the call sent out by St. John Paul II before the Gulf War and the invasion of Iraq: ‘Never again [to] war!’ But humanity has remained hardheaded. Let us pray for the conversion of hearts, which can assure the aspirations of many for a just and long-lasting peace.”