800 years ago, the Roman Catholic Church entrusted the guardianship of the Holy Land of the Christian religion to the Holy Land Friars of the Order of St. Francis, creating what is now known as the Custody of the Holy Land. The Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America is run by the Custody’s friars based in America.
The Franciscan Monastery is home to the Holy Land Franciscan Friars, whose purpose is to support the Holy Land, its people and its holy sites. The Franciscan Friars’ work in the Holy Land is vital. As Pope Francis says, “We will not resign ourselves to imagining a Middle East without Christians.” We preserve the holy places and make it possible for Christians to remain in the land of Jesus.
This work has grown to include support of schools and missions in the Holy Land, as well as care for refugees and other needy people throughout the region. Conflict in the Middle East and the Jerusalem Barrier Wall has led to a declining Christian population in the region, making our work increasingly important. The ability of families in many of these regions to stay in their home countries is increasingly being threatened by the lack of employment and education opportunities. We help care for children, families, refugees and others in need throughout the region, and keep Christianity alive in the land made holy by the birth, ministry, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
The Holy Land Franciscans currently:
- Provide ongoing emergency funds
- Support 29 Catholic parishes, 4 homes for orphans and 3 academic institutions
- Operate 16 schools for more than 10,000 pre-K through grade 12 students that are open to all faiths and currently serve Muslims and Jews in addition to the Christians in the Holy Land.
- Provide university scholarships
- Relocate and provide homes to Christian families
- Rehabilitate destroyed homes for Christians families
- Provide senior care facilities in Bethlehem and Nazareth
- Create jobs for Christians in the Holy Land
- Preserve 74 sanctuaries and shrines from the life of Jesus and the prophets
- Support more than 100 men preparing to be priests or brothers
- Assist Syrian and Iraqi refugee families in Jordan and Lebanon by helping to pay for rent, food, heat, schooling and transportation.
Here in America
Some important facts about the Monastery to note:
- It’s a U.S. pilgrimage site for those who cannot travel to the Holy Land, and is known for its architectural significance and beauty.
- It’s a historic monastery that is home to a thriving Franciscan community.
- We have more than 50,000 tourists and visitors annually.
- It has 42 acres, century-old gardens and full-sized replicas of shrines from the Holy Land
- We hold workshops, concerts and programs to teach, inspire and engage the community.
- We provide daily Mass, confessions, retreat hermitages, and special liturgies.
- The gardens provide 5-6,000 pounds of produce a year for the city’s poor.