JERUSALEM, 29 July 2019 – The President of the Republic of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović started her return State Visit to the State of Israel by visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Franciscan Monastery in Jerusalem, where she met with Croatian Franciscans and presented them with the Charter of the Republic of Croatia.
Addressing Brother Francesco, Custos of the Holy Land, Brother Marcelo, Guardian of the Priory, and Brother Siniša, Discrete of the Custody of the Holy Land, President Grabar-Kitarović expressed her pleasure with meeting them and said she is particularly proud of all the Croatian Franciscans who have been protecting the tomb of Jesus and looking after Christians in the Holy Land for seven centuries, together with their brothers from all over Europe.
The President added that, apart from St. Tavelić and the Blessed Aloysius Stepinac, there is a long list of Croatian Franciscans who have fulfilled their spiritual and humanitarian mission in the Holy Land. “Many stood out by virtue of living a sacred life, by martyrdom, or by helping the sick and the needy. Many of them were scholars and authors of historical and religious publications, and the aforementioned Brother Drakolica of Dubrovnik helped restore the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I will also mention two brothers, Croatian merchants from Bosnia who purchased the Garden of Gethsemane and placed it under the authority of the Franciscans.”
The President said that the Holy Land is in the very foundations of Franciscan missionarism and that the Franciscans were always available to the tens of millions of pilgrims from all over the world, who have over the centuries come here to pray and find strength in solace and spiritual renewal.
“The Franciscan mission is evangelization, fellowship of life in a fraternity, a life of humility, poverty, and solidarity. Those are the values that have for centuries been spread by Croatian Franciscans from all regions of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. For centuries, they took care of their people and have proven themselves, in particular, with their patriotism and charity in the most difficult periods in history for our people,” the President emphasized, adding that the Franciscans contributed immensely to the preservation of Croatian identity, language and culture.
“Therefore, with special gratitude and on behalf of the Republic of Croatia, tonight I present the Charter to the Croatian Franciscans in the Holy Land for their extraordinary contribution to the centuries-old preservation and nurturing of the spiritual tradition of Christianity, as well as for their care of Croatian pilgrims and the promotion of the Croatian identity, which will be received by Brother Siniša Srebrenović, Discrete of the Custody of the Holy Land, on behalf of his centuries-old predecessors and his present day Brothers,” President Grabar-Kitarović concluded.
The official part of the President’s State Visit to Israel will begin on Monday, 29 July with a welcoming ceremony at the Office of President Rivlin, a tête-à-tête of the two Presidents and a bilateral meeting of official delegations of the Republic of Croatia and the State of Israel. In the remainder of the day, President Grabar-Kitarović will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Speaker of the Knesset Yuli-Yoel Edelstein, Minister of Foreign Affairs Israel Katz, and she will also lay a wreath at the Israeli Casualties of War Memorial.