April 2018

Easter in Jerusalem: the ATS pro Terra Sancta in the Old City tell us about it

On the occasion of Easter, we asked some of the collaborators and volunteers of ATS pro Terra Sancta that live and work in the Holy City to tell us something about it. From Jerusalem, the testimony of those who spend every day to support the hope of the Holy Land. Thas same hope we are celebrating today.

“After spending Christmas in Bethlehem, I am curious to be able to live Easter right here in the Holy City where everything happened”. The speaker is Lapo, one of the ATS pro Terra Sancta volunteers that are waiting for Easter in the Old City of Jerusalem. “When you live here – Camilla explains – the risk is to get used to the event that has changed the history of humanity, yet I feel it on my skin and I breathe it everyday”. Benedetta and Corrado decided to follow the friars in Lent for their processions in the places where the events narrated by the Gospels took place. It is a journey that makes you understand your Faith more. “One Saturday night while I was walking – says Lapo – I met a friar that was heading to the Lent procession at midnight, suddenly he invited me to follow him to the celebrations at the Sepulcher and I felt  immediately very welcome as one of them!”

Sometimes to live Easter in Jerusalem means to find ourself phisically in front of the mystery of the resurrection. “One night I was curious and I spent the night at the Sepulcher – says Ines – from the Edicola, which was once all for me, I felt the concrete strength of faith”.

Those who live in Jerusalem and in the Holy Land are daily in contact with Jews, Muslims, Christians of other faiths, and so we have the opportunity to rediscover the origins of our Faith, especially in Lent where we are obliged to stop and reflect. «Pesach means” passage beyond death “- explains to the volunteers Br. Matteo Munari (professor of Aramaic of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum) in one of the meetings held in Maria Bambina, the structure where they live». So for the Jews Easter is to relive the story of salvation through the blood of the sacrifice of the lamb that has freed them from slavery in Egypt, for us through the blood of Christ who saves humanity from the slavery of sin. “When Fr. Alessandro Coniglio (SBF) – says Tullia – explained to us the simple gesture of turning the hand and the word to an excluded like the Samaritan, I truly understood the universal revolutionary significance of the message of Jesus”.

Moments lived in a family way because as Sara says «thanks to the opportunity that I am living with ATS pro Terra Sancta to share a lot of my time with the friars and local Christians I feel at home, despite being for the first time outside my hometown “.

The other most awaited moment is Good Friday at the Holy Sepulcher, where the drama of the Holy Week finds its deepest moment in the Procession of the Deposition of Christ from the cross to the burial right there where it happened. For Tullia who has always followed the Procession of the Dead Christ in Assisi with such emotion, curiosity is prompted by an inner question: “I want to see her for what she will transmit to me”.

For everyone it will be unique to live Easter, because, compared to the rest of the world, only in Jerusalem begins on Saturday morning. If Clara, who has been living in Jerusalem for years, remembers the joy of a year when she accompanied the person closest to her in the Basilica, her mother who had come to visit her, Elena waits for her parents and Sara remembers the joy of when she celebrated her Easter with his colleagues in a family atmosphere. «Certainly it is not easy to understand the mystery of the Resurrection – Camilla explains – but here I realize that one really perceives!».

Yet the Christian life does not end with the Easter day because, Benedetta explains: “even more beautiful is the pilgrimage to Emmaus the next day, there where the Lord first appeared to the disciples”. And it is precisely from there that the Lord showed himself making the message of salvation always alive.

Corrado waits for what amazed him last year: “returning to dawn in Jerusalem shortly after Easter, as soon as I arrived, I went to the Sepulcher (or it would be better to say the Resurrection basilica) and in the first light of the day I saw the local Christians the streets greeted me in Greek and in many languages, saying to me with joy just like the first “Christian” disciples: Christ is risen, truly risen, here “.



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