The parade of the Custodian of the Holy Land, Father Francesco Patton, had arrived at noon on Saturday, to the city of Bethlehem, from the city of Jerusalem, marking the start of the Christmas celebrations and the pastoral feast of Saint Catherine.
The Custodian of the Holy Land said that this year “We will pray that good comes, the Corona epidemic will disappear, the world will live in safety and security, and that Bethlehem will be fine.”
He thanked the people who received him, and congratulated them on the occasion, wishing that this occasion would come next year and the nightmare of the Corona virus may disappear and the peace of the Holy Land .
The reception ceremony was limited, according to the established status, to a few recepients, clerics and a number of journalists, in compliance with the government’s decision to close the governorate to limit the spread of the Corona virus.
Citizens stayed at home and missed the reception for the first time, and followed up on social media and radio stations.
An official reception was held for the religious procession upon its arrival at Manger Square, presented by the Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Rola Maayah, the Governor of Bethlehem Kamel Hamid, the Deputy Mayor of Bethlehem Hanna Hanania, the Director General of the Bethlehem Governor’s Police, Brigadier Tariq Al-Hajj, the Bethlehem District Commander, Brigadier General Nader Omar, and the presidents Churches.
After shaking hands with his recipients, the procession marched on the court of the Nativity and reached the church, where he presided over a special prayer with the participation of a limited number of priests.
In turn, Ma’ayah said: The people of Bethlehem and the governorate were up to the responsibility and committed to their homes under the closure, indicating that the goal of reducing the number of participants in the reception ceremony is to preserve the health and safety of the citizen.
She added that the Christmas celebrations will be this year without tourists and pilgrims, but despite this, Bethlehem will remain the focus of attention of the world.
And the governor of Bethlehem said, “Despite the difficult circumstances, we are keen to revive our national religious events according to the safety of everyone, and today there was a great commitment from citizens not to attend and participate.”
Governor Hamid added in a press interview that our people’s message to the world is that they are a people who yearn for stability, freedom and security, and who want justice for themselves and for the people of the world.
Deputy Mayor of Bethlehem, Hanna Hanania, explained that the celebrations of Christmas this year will be in an organized way that protects the lives of people and everyone, and will focus on them through radio and television stations and social media pages.
As for lighting the Christmas tree, he said, the official attendance will be narrow, to avoid overcrowding and mixing, to protect our people from the Corona virus.
The patron of the Latin Church, Father Rami Asakryeh, said that today’s celebrations will be limited to religious rites, and participation in them will be restricted to twenty monks who live inside the monastery.