The Splendor of the "Romano-Seraphicum" Missal in the Holy Land

Photo: OC-Travel
One of the best kept liturgical secrets in the Church is the unique liturgical life found in the Patriarchal See (Diocese) of Jerusalem with its fascinating Roman-Seraphic Missal (Missale Romano-Seraphicum) and Votive Mass Missal (Missale Votivum Terrae Sanctae) of the Order of Friars Minor of St. Francis of Assisi.

These extremely rare editions are not often seen and for many pilgrims come as a complete surprise, astonishing even many visiting clergy.  The Holy Land showcases a wealth of liturgical riches with a truly fascinating variety of Franciscan feasts and saints and Votive Masses associated with the holy sites where Our Lord lived, died and worked his many miracles.  For example, the Votive Mass where Christ preached the Sermon on the Mount (see below). 

This gem is used by the Franciscans of the Custodia, the Order of Friars Minor of the Custodia Terrae Sanctae, who since the 13th century have been in charge in the Holy Land for Latin Rite Catholics.  It was in 1217 that St. Francis called the first General Chapter of his Friars Minor in Assisi and decided in an act of inspiration to send his friars to all nations, making the Holy Land one of the eleven provinces of the Order and one of special consideration that quickly came to be viewed as the most important.

It was St. Francis himself who journeyed to the Holy Land in 1219-1220, inspired by the poor and crucified Christ.  He requested and received an audience with the Sultan of Egypt, Melek Al-Kamel, the nephew of Saladin, who had control of the Holy Land in those years.  The historic encounter marked the beginning of the Franciscan presence in the Holy Land and has influenced the course of history and liturgical praxis in Jerusalem and the entirety of holy sites associated with the life of Our Lord. 

Over the course of time the Holy Land province of Franciscans took the name "Custodia" ("Custody" of the Holy Land).  A big part of the friars' mission is liturgical on account of the many sacristies and churches they staff in Israel, Palestine, Jordan, etc.  The kind friars for centuries have welcomed visiting Latin Rite priests to the holy sites under their custody, assisting them with the once-in-a-lifetime privilege to offer Holy Mass at the holiest of places.  This privilege still exists today...

No doubt many Catholics will be interested to know when and where they can experience this unique liturgical existence, following the liturgy of the Holy Land at the actual holy sites according to the Missale Votivum Venerabilium Palaestinae Locorum and the supplement for the Diocese of Jerusalem, the Festa Propria Dioecesis Patriarchalis Hierosolymitanae of the Missale Romano-Seraphicum.  

I am happy to announce I will be traveling to the Holy Land in February with my good friend, Fr. Z, on pilgrimage in the footsteps of Christ, with daily Mass celebrated in the Extraordinary Form with the Votive Masses at the holy sites celebrated in toto with the Romano-Seraphicum Missal.  I encourage readers to join me for this rare spiritual privilege.  Limited seating -- register early.

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