On May 1, 2024, a beautiful ceremony was held at Sant’ Onofrio al Gianicolo in Rome as Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzabella, OFM officially accepted the titular of this ancient church as granted to him by Pope Francis. Cardinal Pizzabella is Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins and Grand Prior of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem.

The splendid celebration wove together the history and ministry of Cardinal Pizzabella, the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher and the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement, who maintain the church. A charism of unity and reconciliation gradually emerged.

Cardinal Pizzabella delivered a profound and enlightening homily in which he expressed joy at receiving this designation from Pope Francis and the bond that forms between the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchar and the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement via Sant’ Onofrio.

Also participating in this special liturgy were:

  • His Excellency Joe Donnelly – Ambassador of the United States to the Holy See
  • His Eminence Cardinal Fernando Filoni – Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem
  • His Eminence Cardinal Leonardo Sandri – Prefect Emeritus of the Dicastery for the Oriental Churches and Subdean of the College of Cardinals
  • His Excellency Archbishop Flavio Pace – Secretary of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Christian Unity.
  • Fr. Francesco Patton, OFM – Custos of the Holy Land
  • Fr. Jim Loughran, SA – Vicar General of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement
  • Br. Paolo Nicosia, SA – Procurator General of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement

We extend our best wishes to Cardinal Pizzaballa and pray that the Spirit of God may constantly guide him in his pastoral action, always instilling in him courage and perseverance, especially at this complex time for the Holy Land, the place where the Lord has called him to be a servant.

For our part, we Friars hope to grow in collaboration with the Cardinal to spread the love of God and the Gospel of Jesus. We also reflect on the special attention that our founding father, Servant of God Paul Watson, SA had for the Middle East. As Fr. Jim Loughran recalled in his opening address during the liturgy, Fr. Paul was the co-creator of the “Catholic Near East Welfare Association” (CNEWA) in 1926. That spirit of unity with the Middle East continues to this day.

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