The Custodian of the Holy Land, Fr Francesco Patton, OFM, is currently visiting Malta. Among other meetings, he will celebrate mass at the St Mary of Jesus (Ta’ Ġieżu) church in Valletta on Friday, with special prayers for peace in the Holy Land.

Ever since the time of St Francis of Assisi in 1219, the Franciscans have been present in the Holy Land as missionaries. Their mission is spread out in the entire region of the Middle East, where today there are Israel and Palestine, and the majority of the important Christian holy places. Fr Patton is the superior of the Franciscans in the Holy Land.

The Franciscans are responsible for the care of the most important Christian sanctuaries, visited by thousands of pilgrims every year, including the church where the empty tomb of Christ is found.

Besides, the Franciscans also take pastoral care of the Catholic communities of the Holy Land, particularly in Nazareth, Bethlehem and Jerusalem. They provide opportunities for work for the Christians who live in this region, as well as education in the various Terra Sancta colleges spread across these countries.

The custody of the Holy Land is supported by commissaries in various countries. The Commissary of the Holy Land in Malta, based in the Franciscan friary of Valletta, was founded in 1630 and is one of the oldest. In fact, many Maltese Franciscans were missionaries in the Holy Land during the centuries.

During his visit, which comes to an end on Saturday, Fr Patton will meet the fraternities of the Franciscan friars in Malta, as well as the benefactors of the Holy Land custody. He will also deliver a talk to the entire Franciscan family in Malta regarding the significance of the mystery of the cross in the sanctuaries of Calvary and La Verna, on the occasion of the 800 years since St Francis received the stigmata of the Passion.

More information on the visit of Fr Patton to the Franciscans in Malta is found in the website of the custody: and on that of the Maltese Franciscan Province:

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