Online for a few days now is a digital exhibit put together by the General Library of the Custody of the Holy Land, titled “Telling the Tale: Fr. Agustín Arce, Librarian in the Holy Land.” This project was born out of a collaboration between the Custody of the Holy Land and CRELEB – the Center for European Research in Editorial and Library Studies – with the support of the Association for the Holy Land as part of the project, “Books: Bridges of Peace.”
The exhibit, published “in commemoration of the naming of the new Custos of the Holy Land, Francesco Patton”, recounts the life of Agustín Arce (1884-1984), a Franciscan friar who lived in Jerusalem. An important figure, he brought together a profound dedication to his vocation as pastor with a love for the history and culture of the Holy Land. “This peaceful, methodical friar,” the exhibit declares, “was not only a brilliant scholar, but also a friendly man, always capable of wonder,” and of happily chanting, “Así me gusta! Así me gusta!” whenever Jerusalem became covered in snow in the winter.
Born in Spain, Fr. Arce arrived in the Holy Land in 1922. In service first in Cairo, and later librarian in the Franciscan monastery in Nazareth, he finally moved to Jerusalem in 1924, where he would work as a professor in the Monastery of Saint Savior. He wound up staying in Jerusalem for various periods of service, performing many tasks for the Custody. In 1936, he became librarian of the Central Library of the Custody, which he greatly enriched during his tenure.
The exhibit is available online (in Spanish and Italian) at http://www.bibliothecaterraesanctae.org/, the website of the Library of the Custody. The exhibit consists of fourteen panels illuminated by more than fifty precious archival photos and illustrations.