Words from the Franciscan head of the Gethsemane Hermitage.
Aleteia spoke to Fra Diego, a Franciscan friar from Veneto and head of the Hermiatage of Gethsemane, about his work in the place where Jesus spent the night before he was betrayed, and on Pope Francis’ pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
"Today, what would St. Francis say if he looked upon us?" reflected Fra Diego, "He would see that our work is a form of welcome for all those people who want to live the invitation that Jesus gave to the apostles in the Garden of Olives: ‘Stay here and keep watch with me.’”
© Corrado Paolucci/Aleteia
The world meets here
With a piercing gaze, Fra Diego speaks about the purpose of his mission here at this holy site: "We are a form of mediator, helping people to enter into a true encounter with God. Indeed, the world revolves around this place," he states simply, without pressumption. "Our mission is to be here, rooted in the Gospel passage where Jesus begins his Passion. And we Franciscans try and help the world that passes by here, to encounter this fact."
Pope Francis brings the News
There will be about 800 people to welcome the Pope upon his arrival at Gethsemane. "I have a lot of admiration for Pope Francis. He scares the powerful because he brings originality. And this scares them."
There are so many expectations for this visit: "I expect that it can dissolve some ‘knots’ that have existed (and resisted) for a long time in this land. They are ‘knots’ of negative attitudes towards us and our people. And for this I hope that his visit creates bridges. In short, more bridges and fewer walls, both at the inter-religious and ecumenical level."
An image of St. Francis
Is there a link between Jorge Maria Bergoglio and St. Francis of Assisi? Fra Diego says that "the Pope tries truly to live the Gospel, just as St. Francis did. And I believe that the Lord has prepared him to live in such a way."
Before saying goodbye, Fra Diego showed us the piece of land where Pope Francis will plant the olive tree of peace. "It will be just behind Paul VI’s tree."
So the story continues and St. Francis will have a good reason to smile.
© Corrado Paolucci/ Aleteia