The Custody of the Holy Land - which has its origins in 1217 when Saint Francis of Assisi decided to send some of his friars to walk where the Lord Jesus himself lived, died, and rose - today celebrates a day of great joy as Father Francesco Patton, O.F.M. succeeds Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, O.F.M. in his new ministry as Custos:
As he takes up this vital office in the service of the Church, Father Patton said he is filled with both "trepidation" and "great confidence" because "I believe in the value of obedience and so I believe that the will of God passes through very concrete human mediations, such as the willingness to take up this service as requested by the Order."
The work of the Custos is of great importance, not only for the Holy Land but for Christians everywhere. The Custody of the Holy Land describes his ministry as follows:
The main task of the Custos, in addition to animating the life of the friars, is to coordinate and direct the reception of pilgrims who come to the Holy Land for pilgrimage and pray at the shrines of our Redemption. This task was bestowed by the Holy See over 600 years ago. The term used at those times to designate this task was "custody" of the holy places, from which derived the terms still in use "Custody" and "Custos ".I congratulate Father Patton and invite you to remember him and his ministry in your daily prayers.
The first and most important role of the Custos, therefore, is to receive the pilgrims at the Holy Shrines, offering them spaces of prayer and making available hostels for those who cannot afford expensive hotels.
The Custos ensures that friars are available to receive and talk with pilgrims at the holy places. His jurisdiction includes all the Catholic Christian sanctuaries. He ensures their economic support in order that this important function is fulfilled.
Another mission that the Custos assumes is to coordinate information about the Holy Land and instill in the Christians of the world the "loving care" for these sites: archaeological excavations at the holy places, publication of ancient pilgrimages and above all, the study of the Bible through geography and history of these same sites where the events took place. For this reason the Custody has set up the SBF, FAI, FPP, to name a few. These activities depend mainly on the Custos who sponsors such initiatives.
Another important task the Custos undertakes is to care for and sustain, in agreement with the local church, the Christian presence in the Holy Land through various initiatives. This includes ministry to schools and parishes and is done in conjunction with the local church [more].