400 years of the Commissariat of the Holy Land in Colombia

June 3, 1623 - 2023

07 June 2023

On June 3, the Commissariat of the Holy Land in Colombia celebrated its 400th anniversary.
For the occasion, the Custos of the Holy Land, Br Francesco Patton, visited Colombia from 1 to 4 June.

A seminar was held on Thursday 1 June at the University of San Bonaventura in Bogotà, with the participation of the Custos and the Commissary of the Holy Land in Colombia, Br José Manuel Ortega. The event, for friars and the Franciscan family, was the opportunity to show the reality of the work of the Franciscans in the Holy Places and go into further depth into the history of the foundation of the Commissariat of the Holy Land in Colombia.

The following day, Br Francesco and Br José Manuel attended a meeting with the young people of the University Pastoral, organized at La Gran Colombia University. The dialogue was on the Holy Places, vocation to service and the testimony of Christians in the Holy Land.

On June 3, Msgr. Luis José Rueda Aparicio, Metropolitan Archbishop of Bogotà, presided the Solemn Mass; his concelebrants were Msgr. Francisco Nieto Súa, bishop of Engativá, Br Silvio De La Fuente, coordinator of the Commissaries of the Holy Land, Br José Alirio Urbina, Minister Provincial of the Province of Santa Fe, as well as Br Francesco Patton.

Br Jorge Luis Torregroza Rojas
Province of Santa Fe, Colombia

The origin of the Commissariats of the Holy Land is very ancient and is motivated by the enormous difficulties of the Custody to fulfil its tasks in a very complex political and religious situation.
Having observed that neither the lives of the friars nor preserving the Holy Places was possible without alms from the Christian princes, the first Statutes of the Custody (1377) established that the Custos appoint one or two laymen to administrate the alms. Half a century later, the figure of the Commissary of the Holy Land was officially established with the Bull His quae by Pope Martin V (14th February 1421). In more recent times, Pope Paul VI declared that the activity of the Commissaries, “as meritorious as in the past, is still valid and functional" (Paul VI, Nobis in animo). Currently there are 67 Commissariats of the Holy Land, distributed in 60 nations of the world.
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