Monday, February 26, 2024

More than 1,000 children take part in Via Crucis for peace in Jerusalem

More than 1000 children and pupils from all the Christian schools in Jerusalem walked down the traditional Via Crucis on the morning of 23 February, invoking peace in the Holy Land.

Wearing a white scarf with the dove, the symbol of peace, the youngsters and their teachers met at the Shrine of the Flagellation, together with the Custos of the Holy Land, fr. Francesco Patton and Adolfo Tito Yllana, Apostolic nuncio in Israel and Apostolic delegate for Jerusalem and Palestine, and many heads and representatives of the local Christian schools and communities.

The Via Crucis started in front of the statue vandalized last year exactly on this spot, in the Chapel of the Condemnation: in the disfigured face of Jesus there is the image of a population that is suffering and in need of reconciliation.

“The Way of Peace”

“We are here to invoke peace,” said fr. Ibrahim Faltas, Vicar of the Custody of the Holy Land and Director of the Terra Sancta Schools, as well as the promotor of this extraordinary event, “this is why we wanted to call today’s Via Crucis “The Way of Peace” and a white dove was printed on the scarves distributed to all the participants.”

“These children and young people,” fr. Ibrahim insisted, “are here to pray for all their brothers and sisters who are in Gaza  and who are suffering and imploring that this terrible war ends.”

The procession then moved off, in  a calm and sincere atmosphere, to the stations of the passion of Jesus: at each station, two children freed two white doves. The last stations of the Via Crucis were concluded in St Saviour’s church.

“We trod on the same stones that Jesus trod on 2000 years ago as he carried the cross and went up to Calvary. We did it to invoke the end of the war and the gift of reconciliation and peace.” With these words, the Custos of the Holy Land spoke to the children and young people at the end of the prayer (here the full text).

“You know that in giving his life for us, Jesus experienced the greatest suffering, he felt all the suffering of humanity, and the suffering we feel today is also the suffering of the children of Gaza, of Palestine and of Israel and of  many other countries in the world.”

An “ecumenical” Via Crucis

“There is no stronger prayer for peace than the one said on the route that remembers the Passion and death of Jesus,  the Custos of the Holy Land insisted. “We can say that it was an “ecumenical” Via Crucis as all the Christian Churches were present, all united in the desire to take the same way as Jesus, to save us, invoking peace, reconciliation and unity.”

The Custos of the Holy Land then wanted to dedicate a special thought to children. “It was a Via Crucis that also had the intention of exhorting our children to remain resolute in hope and also to express solidarity with the children of Bethlehem and the Palestinian Territories, whose families are without work. At a time when it seems that men are unable to agree,  we have to knock more insistently on God’s door with our prayer, so that he can bring those who must and can find a solution to this war back to reason.”