ASIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Icon of the Holy Family begins its pilgrimage among the hopes and afflictions of the peoples of the Middle East
Jerusalem (Agenzia Fides) - The journey of the Icon of the Holy Family has begun from Jerusalem which in the coming months will make a long pilgrimage to Lebanon and other Middle Eastern countries, uniting with the common thread of shared affection for Jesus, Joseph and Mary different communities of faith that find themselves in the midst of recurrent convulsions, crises and conflicts that afflict this region of the world. Syrian Catholic Patriarch Ignace Youssif III Younan, who is making a pastoral visit to Israel, Palestine and Jordan and who yesterday was also received by the Palestinian President Abu Mazen, will bring with him the icon of the Holy Family on his return to Lebanon, which will therefore begin to be welcomed in turn by the parishes, monasteries and shrines of the Land of Cedars.
After the Lebanese stages, the pilgrimage of the icon will continue in other countries of the Middle East, including Iraq, to then arrive in Rome, on the occasion of the Marian solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, celebrated by the Church of Rome on December 8. And finally, back to the Holy Land. The icon of the pilgrim reproduces the image of the Holy Family represented above the altar of the Church of Saint Joseph, in Nazareth, where, according to tradition, was the house of the Bridegroom of Mary. The painting was inlaid with relics kept in Nazareth, at the Basilica of the Annunciation. Its long pilgrimage through the towns and villages of the Middle East can be seen as a development of the first "Day of Peace for the East" celebrated on Sunday June 27 by the Catholic Churches present in many countries of the Middle East.
On that occasion, during the Eucharistic liturgies celebrated by Bishops and Patriarchs in the Middle East to invoke peace and mercy for the peoples of the regions where the Christian faith was born, a special act of consecration of the Middle East to the Holy Family of Nazareth was also carried out.
The gazes and prayers of the baptized turned towards the icon - underlines a comment published in Lebanon by the Catholic Communication Center - will express the communion of faith also between Christians of different faiths, united by a common devotion to the Holy Family, venerated with unique accents by the Coptic Church, which keeps the places scattered over the Egyptian territory crossed, according to local traditions, by Mary, Joseph and the Child Jesus when they were forced to flee to Egypt to escape the evil designs of Herod. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 8/7/2021)