Posted on Jun 28, 2019

Prophet for some Jews, the forerunner of Christ for the Christians: the birth of St. John the Baptist is both an appointment of prayer and an opportunity for dialogue between two communities. The village of Ein Karem, nestled in the green hills at the edge of the city of Jerusalem, is the most suitable place for both.

At the end of two days of prayer in the places where Saint John the Baptist lived, the Custos of the Holy Land presided over the Holy Mass next to the place where the birth of the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth is commemorated, who will travel the Jordan preaching a baptism of conversion and announcing the coming of Jesus, thus becoming the connection between the Old and the New Testaments.

“The vocation and mission of John the Baptist,’ Brother Francesco Patton explained during the homily, “will be to walk like a tread before the Lord, to make the people who meet and listen to him experience salvation through the forgiveness of sins and the encounter with the mercy of God.”

As per tradition, in the days leading up to the feast, a special conference was also organized, the result of a collaboration between the Custody and the council of Ein Karem, dedicated to the latest results of historical, archaeological and theological studies on the ties between St John the Baptist and Ein Karem, which also involved the local Jewish community.

Br FRANCESCO PATTON, ofm Custos of the Holy Land “It is already been several years, this is the third year that we celebrates this day of study and friendship linked to the figure of St. John the Baptist here in Ein Karem: St. John the Baptist is obviously the “famous character” of Ein Karem and through his figure a friendship with the local community was born in recent years. It is clear that the relationship between Christianity and Judaism is very close because Christianity was born from the strain of Judaism, as St. Paul put it in his letters to the Romans. Therefore, it is clear that for us, deepening our common roots also means understanding what it means to be Christians.”


It is not an old fairy tale, but the children have to do with it: it is the story of how, in Ein Karem, the local Jewish community and the friars of the Custody who live here were able to strengthen their friendship thanks… to the arrival of a donkey in Father Severino’s garden.

ALON ORION Prime Minister of Ein Karem  “He had a donkey, but the donkey really felt lonely and made a lot of noise. He would complain, “I’m alone,” he would say. So Father Severino brought him a companion and since they were together there was less noise but after a while, their little donkey arrived. And this donkey was so sweet that we took the kindergarten children to the monastery to celebrate its birthday.”

Thanks to the donkey, one of the many opportunities for mutual acquaintance has been created in Ein Karem, where the Franciscan convent and the restaurant of Casa Nova, the home for pilgrims, are a true point of reference for the village and a place of daily meeting where strong bonds of friendship are born.

MATZI OVADIA Citizen of Ein Karem  “This is like a second home for me in Ein Karem. I think that what is really deep and strong for me is how Father Severino can see people, people as human beings: no matter what the religion, he sees the person. He has a big heart, an open heart, an open mind, I can talk to him about a lot of things.”

KINERET BUTIL Citizen of Ein Karem  “As a child, I could hear Mass from my balcony and my yard, I could listen the music of the Mass on Sundays, and I’ve always been curious to see what it was like inside. Today specially that we remember the birth of St. John the Baptist is the first time I see this feast from the inside and it is a very interesting thing, a very spiritual. We really like this relationship and we are happy to have it here in the village, I think it is very important for all of us.”