Thanks to the fraternal welcome of the Benedictines of Abu Gosh, the Religious Communities came in large numbers to display their work and participate in this day of friendship, which was dedicated to them. Very affected morally and financially by the absence of pilgrims for over a year, these communities have benefited from the invaluable help of some fifty young lay volunteers, mobilized for several weeks, to prepare for this whole day.
Thus, on June 5, more than 900 people, Israelis, Palestinians, expatriates, Christians, Jews, Muslims, mostly in families, were able not only to discover the monastic life and its very high-quality crafts, but also one of the oldest and one of the most beautiful abbeys in the Holy Land. Guided tours were organized in Arabic, Hebrew, French and English.
The Romanesque frescoes of the abbey were commented on by Ali Kleibo, Palestinian anthropologist, who testified as a Muslim artist in front of these medieval Western Christian figures, after a recital given by the Benedictine Community of Abu Gosh, some of whom Hebrew chants, especially Psalm 150, were taken up by the Israelis present in the church. These precious moments of interfaith communion deeply moved visitors and the religious men and women.
The gardens offered a haven of greenery and peace to walkers, while the Institut Français welcomed children aged 5 to 12 with artistic and fun activities linked to the abbey.
The radiant faces of all, visitors, organizers, the friendly and respectful attitude of each, clearly expressed the happiness of being together in such a beautiful setting, after so many difficult months.
His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, graced the event with his presence for more than an hour-and-a-half, taking the time to greet everyone, warmly thanked by the organizers and all the Communities present for his support. He was accompanied by Bishop Boulos Marcuzzo and Father Firas Abedrabbo.
The Ambassador of France to Israel H.E. Mr. Eric Danon, the Consul General of France Mr. René Troccaz and the Deputy Consul General, Ms. Olivia Eteneau, were also present. They also contributed a lot to the success of this day.
Many Ambassadors and Heads of Mission, including the European Union Representative in the Palestinian Territories, Mr. Sven Kühn Von Burgsdorff, came to support this initiative and kindly mingled with the crowd of visitors.
At the end of this day, the 130 religious present for the event left delighted by all these meetings and all the smiles exchanged, more determined than ever to pray for peace and friendship in the Holy Land.
The diversity of their vocation, of their work, of their personalities, of their very clothes, was for all the visitors a beautiful testimony to the unity of the Church in its diversity, where, as in the Holy Land, each one has his place and an important role to play for the good of all.