Bishop Shomali in Italy fosters ties with Holy Land   2013/03/05
By: JJ

Bishop William Shomali, Auxiliary Bishop of Jerusalem joined the local Church from Liguria to Piedmont, in celebration and prayer, strengthening ties between Italy and the Holy Land.

The first stop was Varazze, on the Ligurian coast during the celebration of Saint Catherine of Siena’s feast, patroness of the town, on April 29-30. Already existing is a close relationship between the region and the Holy Land. Archbishop Giuseppe Valerga, the first Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem after the restoration of the Patriarchate in Jerusalem in 1847, is from a nearby town. He founded the first parish of the Latin Patriarchate in Beit Jala, and established the seminary. The parish priest of Saint-Ambroise, Father Giulio Grosso has maintained friendly relations between these two cities. He has been conferred the honor of Canon of the Holy Sepulchre.

Every year, the feast is popularly celebrated. “People are very moved and fervent, there is a genuine devotion to Saint Catherine,” comments Father Mario Corniole, an Italian priest of the patriarchal delegation. More than 5,000 of the 14,000 residents participated in the festivities carrying in procession a dozen large crucifix and the statue of St. Catherine, which after the celebration is veiled for the rest of the year. Bishop Shomali in his homily focused on the great love of Saint Catherine for the Church and its commitment to society to resolve conflicts of the time and the struggles for unity and communion. He also mentioned the words of this great saint: “There can never be a reason for conflict so serious that one can prefer to use reason instead of arms,” which compares with the situation in the Holy Land. “This force, is tapping into the contemplation of Christ crucified and risen,” he said, and “an example of strength, faith and love with an estimable value.”

At Castelceriolo for the feast of St. George

Bishop Shomali then celebrated with the people of Castelceriolo in the Piedmont region, the feast of St. George, patron saint of the town. This great martyr, whose mother was a native of Palestine, is revered in Lydda, now Lod City, where his relics are venerated. Bishop Shomali is the Titular Bishop of Lydda. This town has a strong connection with the Holy Land and its parish priest, Father Walter is a great friend of the Patriarchate. Celebration of the town’s feast is an occasion for a beautiful witness of the people’s faith. The Bishop also confirmed several young people from the town.

The Bishop had the opportunity to present a conference in Alexandrian on “Inter-religious Dialogue in the Holy Land” which was received with great interest.

“This trip is an opportunity for mutual enrichment between the Holy Land and Italy, a fine occasion to maintain ties of friendship between our dioceses” , assured the Bishop.

Marie Malzac


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