11 Jun 2016

A New Custos for the Holy Land

With the approval of the Holy See, the Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans) has appointed Father Francesco Patton as the new Custos of the Holy Land. Father Patton, who hails from northern Italy and has served as secretary of the order’s general chapter, succeeds Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, who has served as Custos since 2004.

The Custos of the Holy Land is the Minister Provincial (i.e. the major superior) of the Friars Minor living throughout the Middle East. He has jurisdiction over the territories of Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt (in part), Cyprus and Rhodes without counting the numerous houses or Commissariats in various parts of the world (worth mentioning are those in Rome and Washington).

The main task of the Custos, in addition to animating the life of the friars, is to coordinate and direct the reception of pilgrims who come to the Holy Land for pilgrimage and pray at the shrines of our Redemption. This task was bestowed by the Holy See over 600 years ago. The term used at those times to designate this task was "custody" of the holy places, from which derived the terms still in use "Custody" and "Custos ".

He heads The Custody, a body made up of 285 members of the Franciscan order from 39 countries. Its territory covers Israel, the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Cyprus, the Greek island of Rhodes and the monastery of Mouski, in Cairo.

The videos below from Terra Sancta News show the ancient ceremonies whereby the Custos takes up his role as Guardian of the Holy Places.

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