FIRST COOPERATION OF ITS TYPE BETWEEN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND THE TOURISM MINISTRY. THOUSANDS OF CATHOLICS CELEBRATE MASS ON INTERNATIONAL DAY OF FAITH AT MOUNT PRECIPICE, NAZARETH
The event, part of the concluding events of the Year of Faith declared last year by Pope Benedict XVI, was led by His Beatitude, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Tual and in the presence of the Tourism Minister Dr. Uzi Landau. Tourism Minister Dr. Uzi Landau: "We welcome you on this important day. Collaboration between the Catholic church and the Tourism Ministry is important for us."
Latin Patriarch: "Thank you for your presence and your efforts".
This morning, Sunday 17 November 2013, the International Day of Faith celebrations opened on Mount Precipice in Nazareth. The festive mass, attended by thousands of Catholic faithful from Israel, the region and around the world, was led by His Beatitude, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Tual in the presence of the Tourism Minister Dr. Uzi Landau. Also in attendance were His Beatiitude Archbishop Michel Sabbah, Patriarch Emeritus of Jerusalem for Latins and His Excellency, Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, Apostolic Nuncio to Israel.
The celebrations in Nazareth, which will be followed next week (24 November 2013) by the closing event of the Year of Faith in the Vatican, were led by the Catholic Church with the assistance of the Tourism Ministry, in cooperation with the Ministry for the Development of the Gailee, Israel Police, the Nazareth Municipality, KKL-JNF and the Nazareth Association for Tourism and Culture.
During the Mass, a letter from His Excellency Pope Francis was read: "The history of our faith finds its origins in the very land where you celebrate. Before we can understand our own personal history of faith nd our need for God's mercy, we must all turn to that place and time when Jesus himself walked among us"
Pope Benedict XVI opened the Year of Faith, as an opportunity for all Catholics to rediscover a journey of faith, with a declaration in Rome in October 2012. The event at Mount Precipice included an artistic program that featured choirs from Catholic communities around the world, followed by celebration of the Eucharist. Food and souvenir stalls were set up near the site and in the center of Nazareth.
Within the framework of the event, an icon that depicts St. Peter and Jesus in the Galilee was consecrated by a Fransiscan monk from the Holy Land. The icon will be sent to the Vatican where it will be displayed as part of the concluding celenrations for the Year of Faith that will take place next week.
In his address during the Mass, the Latin Patriarch thanked "all those who came from the region and around the world to participate in these cherished moments in the Holy Land." The Patriarch thanked the Tourism Ministry and the Nazareth Municipality and all those who helped in the event production for their collaboration.
According to estimates by the Tourism Ministry and the Israel Police, about 7,000 Catholic faithful attended the event, including pilgrims from Italy, Brazil, Spain, UK , Japan Poland, the Palestinian Authority and neighboring countries. The event attracted significant international media coverage, with representatives from many foreign media outlets coming to Nazareth to cover the festivities.
In 2012, over two million Christian tourists and pilgrims arrived in Israel, representing about 60% of all incoming tourism. According to estimates, the event is expected to contribute to the marketing of Israel around the world as a preferred Christian tourism destination. The Tourism Ministry's dedicated website for the Catholic world: www.holyland-pilgrimage.org
Photo Credit: Nitzan Schorer