Melkite Greek Catholic Church
 

Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

H.B. Patriarch Gregorios III's

Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, Spain

With the Order of Saint Lazarus

May 20-24, 2010

Arriving in Santiago on 20 May 2010, His Beatitude went to the Parador Hotel to prepare for meeting members of the Saint Lazarus Order, of which he is the Spiritual Protector. Accompanying His Beatitude for his stay was Archimandrite Mtanios Haddad, Patriarchal Apocrisary in Rome and Archimandrite Gabriel Ghanoum, who arrived on 21 May from Mexico, together with Deacon Naji Youssef and his family from the United States.

On the first afternoon, His Beatitude and Father Mtanios made a private visit to the Cathedral to venerate the tomb of the apostle, who reputedly evangelized Galicia and requested that after his death, his body be transported from Jerusalem to the region of his apostolic activity.

On 21 May, His Beatitude and other pilgrims were taken on a tour of the cathedral museum and roof, whence it is possible to survey the whole town which since the ninth century has grown up around the tomb.

The pilgrims were then formally welcomed by the Grand Master and Chevalier Joaquín Cayuela representing the Grand Priory of Spain at a reception in the former chapel of the Hostal de los Reyes Católicos, founded on the order of the sovereign in the fifteenth century for the purpose of sheltering the pilgrims arriving from various routes by sea and land. Some forty-two heads of jurisdictions had gathered from around the world to discuss the Order's plans for its charitable work.

On 22 May, some members of the Order walked the final stage of the pilgrim road from Monte de Gozo before attending a Pilgrims' Mass in the Cathedral, at which His Beatitude and Melkite clergy concelebrated with the Dean of the Cathedral, Rev. José María Díaz Fernández (in the absence of the Archbishop). The Dean in his sermon spoke admiringly of the role of the Eastern Churches and the Melkite Church, especially the late Patriarch Maximos IV, whom he met during the Second Vatican Council. His Beatitude was given the honor of putting incense into the botafumeiro swung over the heads of the congregation at the end of the Mass.

Later that day, His Beatitude with the Grand Master, Don Carlos Gereda de Borbón, Marqués de Almazán, presided over an investiture ceremony at San Martín Pinario seminary. A celebratory dinner for over four hundred members of the Order and their guests was afterwards held in the refectory of the monastery.

On Sunday, 23 May, the Feast of Pentecost, His Beatitude Patriarch Gregorios, with concelebrants Fathers Mtanios and Gabriel at the altar and Deacon Naji and family leading the people's chanted responses, celebrated (in six languages) a pontifical Divine Liturgy in the Church of San Fructuoso, which was packed with members of the Saint Lazarus Order and their guests. In his role as Spiritual Protector of the Order, His Beatitude preached a sermon to encourage members of the Order to live out their solidarity with Jerusalem in a spiritual and practical way. (See full text)

His Beatitude left Spain for Lebanon on 24 May at the end of this memorable and moving Jubilee Year visit to Santiago de Compostela.

V. C.

 
Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

Sermon preached by H. B Patriarch Gregorios III in San Fructuoso, Compostela

on the Occasion of the Pilgrimage of the Order of Saint Lazarus to Santiago de Compostela

Pentecost May 23, 2010

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen.

Today it seems appropriate to ask whether we are in Jerusalem or Compostela, since the Lord Jesus promised:

"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matthew 18: 20)

After his resurrection in Jerusalem, the apostles were glad when they saw the Lord.

Today we are gathered around the risen Lord and his apostle, Saint James of Compostela here in this pilgrimage.

Pilgrimage is one of the most striking aspects of Christian worship. Down the ages, pilgrimages have been a way of communion and communication, of spiritual sharing of faith, culture, art, commerce and humanity – and a factor for living together in peace.

Saint James of Compostela, the Lord's brother, first Bishop of Jerusalem, unites us today as members of the Saint Lazarus Order, and as pilgrims from many nations.

This pilgrimage to the apostle's tomb also unites us to Jerusalem, mother of all Churches, and to the Church of the Resurrection, the supreme place of Christian pilgrimage.

We are joining the millions of pilgrims to Compostela and Jerusalem. We pilgrims are members of the Order of Saint Lazarus, which is deeply linked to the story of Jerusalem and to pilgrimage to the holy places, since the Order worked to make the pilgrims' way easier and to render humanitarian service to them and to the inhabitants of the holy places.

We wish and pray for the Order's social and health service to develop more and more in each country where the Order of Saint Lazarus is present, particularly with respect to the Holy Land, and to the projects of the Patriarch, since he is the Order's Spiritual Protector.

Here I would like to express my profound gratitude to the Order on my own behalf and on behalf of all those helped by the Order's work, with my affection, prayers and blessing. Thank you also to our hosts, the Grand Priory of Spain and to those who have worked so hard to organise this event, particularly to Chevalier Cayuela and his team for making it so enjoyable and successful. Agradable y hermoso!

We thank the Lord for having brought about the unity of the Order in Manchester in 2008 and for our splendid, active Grand Master, Don Carlos, who is always so friendly, approachable and enthusiastic.

As Protector of the Order, I call upon all of you to work for deeper unity within the Order in every one of your countries.

I would like now to add a few spiritual words drawn from our Eastern Liturgy for the three feasts of the Resurrection, Ascension and Pentecost. In the hymn of the Ascension, we read, "Lord, thou hast filled thy disciples with joy, by the promise of the Holy Spirit and thou didst confirm them with thy blessing: and having thus united things of earth and of heaven, thou didst say to thy disciples, ′I am with you and no-one shall be against you. Await the fulfilment of the Father's promise.'"

Today, we are celebrating the Feast of Pentecost: once again we are living the descent of the Holy Spirit during this Divine Liturgy. We sing the hymn of the feast, which is the Church's birthday and that of the unity of all Christians in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. As Jesus told his disciples, "Receive ye the Holy Spirit," so he tells us during this Liturgy and pilgrimage, "Receive the Holy Spirit, who will call to mind the teachings of my Gospel."

Dear friends, brothers and sisters, today in this pilgrimage and on this Feast of the Holy Spirit,

be strengthened by the Holy Spirit you received at baptism and who is in you, enabling you to act.

May the Holy Spirit be with you, enabling you to move forward!

May the Holy Spirit be with you, enabling you to be witnesses for Jesus in the world, in your countries, in the Order and through the Order's works and in your own professions!

Be filled with the Holy Spirit, who will be your Counsellor and Guide.

And as, through investiture, you put on your capes, so put on the Holy Spirit of Christ, in order to work for peace and to be in this world of ours, which is God's, salt, light and leaven in the lump of humanity, bringing the world to fruition and creating a civilisation of life and love.

And may the blessing of almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with you all, now and forever.

Amen.

Gregorios III

Ed. V. C.

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