The village of Ein Karem is located a few kilometers from Jerusalem. In this wooded and quiet area according to Christian tradition the Virgin Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, and according to the story of the evangelist Luke “was kept hidden for five months” meditating on the miracle of late pregnancy granted by the Lord. In the Gospel text it is said that Mary hurried to the mountainous region in a city of Judah, a hurry dictated by the joy of communicating to Elizabeth the announcement of the Angel Gabriel. This brief description has meant that Ein Karem was considered the place of the meeting between the two women, a meeting that marks the mutual recognition of motherhood. Without needing to utter a word they both understand that something wonderful is about to happen to them. At the voice of Mary a jolt moves the child into Elizabeth’s womb, and to his greeting of praise, Mary responds with a canticle of praise to God known as the Magnificat, her prayer of full and complete acceptance of the Almighty’s drawings.
In the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church the episode of the Visitation of Mary is placed on the last day of May at the conclusion of the celebrations of the Marian month. And it is precisely in this place, guarded by the Franciscan friars, that the Father Custos presides over the solemn mass.
We at ATS pro Terra Sancta, who help keep the places of Christian memory together with the friars, we went this morning to attend the celebration officiated by Brother Francesco Patton. It is from this place, just outside Jerusalem, that we show you the images of a memory that lives again, every year, in this church built by Antonio Barluzzi.