To foster bonds between the Holy Land and the world
Living forever in the Holy Land
Giving one’s money to the poor is a fact that touches the roots of man’s life, because it is acceptance of the way of life of Christ, who from “rich that he was made poor for you, to enrich you through his poverty” (2 Cor 8:9). The Apostle Paul presents the collection in favor of the Christians of Jerusalem as grace, sharing, service, love that sees in action the generosity and grace of the Lord. (Rom 15:25-27)
The strong bond between God and the Holy City is also expressed several times in the Old Testament. The earthly Jerusalem, mother of all peoples, has always been matched by the heavenly Jerusalem.
The Patriarch Jacob saw in fact “a staircase that connected the two cities and on which the angels went up and down” (Gen 28:10).
By affirming that “God does not enter the heavenly Jerusalem before he has entered the earthly Jerusalem” (Talmud, Taanit 5a), tradition recognizes that everything that is done in the Holy City finds an echo in the heavenly Jerusalem.
A centuries-old tradition
The fascination and desire to see this land has led many, since the very first centuries of the Christian era, to face all sorts of obstacles and dangers, in order to be able to touch the places that saw the birth, death and resurrection of the Son of God.
And there are several stories that tell us of pilgrims who sent donations on their behalf in support of shrines and holy places, with the aim of responding to the needs of the poorest and maintaining a link with Jerusalem.
Unity with the brothers in Christ of the Holy Land, following the example of Saint Paul, has therefore always been realized through gestures of real charity, carried out in life or after death.
The simplest people donated food and animals: camels, foals, horses, pigs, sheep, poultry and doves.
For a pilgrim, therefore, giving was and is a gesture of belonging to the Mother Church of the Holy Land and that is why everyone gives what he can, according to his own availability, because the value is given by the purpose of the act, which is pure charity.
The popes and the link with the Holy Land
“Do not be afraid! Count on the prayers and solidarity of your brothers and sisters of the universal Church, and work with concrete initiatives to consolidate your presence and to offer new possibilities to those who are tempted to leave”. (BenedictXVI)
The Roman pontiffs were not only benevolent towards the Holy Land with spontaneous alms, but they worked with all their strength to ensure that these gestures were imitated throughout Christendom.
Urban IV, wanted all the clergymen of France to leave the tenth part of their property for the Church in Palestine, and Benedict XIV ordered the preachers to speak to the people in favor of the Holy Land, recommending them “that they remember the holy places, with leaving to them some limousin or pious bound”.
In recent times, the popes who have gone on pilgrimage to the Holy Places – from Paul VI in 1964 to John Paul II in 2000, from Benedict XVI in 2009 to Francis in 2014 – have all strongly called for support for the communities of the Holy Land.