On may 28 St. Thérèse participated in the celebration of the feast of the Visitation in Shefa Amr, in which the traditional Marian procession is held. This year, our Lady and "the Little Flower” walked together for almost four hours, uniting the Latin, Orthodox, Protestant and Greek - Melkite Churches. They were accompanied by Bishop Boulos Marcuzzo, Archbishop Chacour and priests of all denominations, among whom was the priest of the Latin parish father Bassam Deir; father Andraws Bahhouth, Melkite; father Samwil Zayed, Orthodox and the Anglican Pastor Fouad Dagher. In the heart of this ancient town in Galilee of about 12.000 Christians, a large and exuberant crowd followed the procession; among which some sisters of the Sisters of Nazareth were present.
A day of worship, joy and reflection
During the morning the relics were brought to the House of the Sisters of Nazareth then to the Latin Church to be venerated by various groups: young people of the parish, Franciscan youth, the New Life Community, whose members, at the end of the afternoon sung with fervor songs in honor of the Saint.
As soon as the relics arrived at the entrance of the Latin Church, there was an atmosphere of joy and celebration: young people danced traditional dances of Palestine around the relics for welcoming them with the honor of a daughter of the country.
Celebration of the Holy Mass in the Latin Church of St. Joseph
In the presence of the relics and the statue of the Virgin Mary, the holy mass was celebrated by Bishop Boulos Marcuzzo and concelebrated by Father Bassam Deir, OFM and Father Zaher Abboud, OFM. In his homily, at the request of the faithful, Bishop Boulos Marcuzzo recalled the history of the childhood, vocation, holiness and miracles of this young Carmelite. He emphasized the spiritual and pastoral themes closely related to the faithful: love, divine mercy and the searching of their vocation. Finally, he invited all children under the age of 10 years to approach the relics and he gave them a picture of the "Little Flower". At the end he recalled again to the faithful the Theresian message of evangelical childhood.
Mary and Saint Thérèse visiting the churches
The procession was preceded by the Scouts, children from the school and some knights proudly sitting on their mounts. The statue of the Virgin and the reliquary were put together on a chariot that was drawn through the streets by young men and women. In this way the Saint of Lisieux entered in all the churches of different denominations of the village. In each Church the relics were welcomed with a time of prayer, a song of the Eastern tradition celebrating the resurrection and a short speech. The crowd of faithful was hardly able to follow the relics. In the Orthodox Church, father Zayed recalled the importance of the veneration of the relics of the Saints in the Orthodox tradition; in the Anglican Church of St. Paul, pastor Fouad Daher welcomed the faithful with the “Hymn to joy”; in the Church Greek-Catholic, Bishop Chaccour, Melkite Archbishop of Galilee, expressed his great joy of seeing Saint Thérèse visiting the land of Galilee. Then the relics remained in the Melkite Church of Saint Peter and Paul which remained open until 11 pm.
During this time, the procession brought back the statue of the Virgin to the Latin Church. Her return was greeted with strong cheers and drumming. Bishop Boulos Marcuzzo warmly thanked the priests present, the choir, the scouts and all those who contributed to the success of this unforgettable day and then he gave the final benediction to the Assembly.
by Magali Baron - summary of the article
Photos: Baron and A.Karam