Sacred Sites in Contested Regions

Month of May Catholic Celebrations

Month of May Catholic Celebrations:In Jerusalem, May, the month of the Virgin Mary is accompanied with Masses, rosaries, processions, veneration of statues and icons — all in honor of Mary. May 31st, the day that the Church commemorates the Visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth, marks the close of the Marian festivities. The Latin (Roman) Catholics of Jerusalem gathered at 5:00 P.M. for Mass in the Church of St. Saviour, the parish inside the walled Old City of Jerusalem. For the closing of the month of May dedicated to Mary, the Latin Rite Christians of Jerusalem convened on 31 May, in the late afternoon, for a long procession in the Christian quarter of Jerusalem. Hundreds of people gather for the procession in the streets of the Old City’s Christian quarter. Youth, families, Scouts and Franciscans firstly recited the Rosary, and the Mass followed in the parish church of St. Savior. Then, the procession moved along to Collège des Frères, the nee gate, and the Latin Patriarchate. During the procession girls from the community carry the statue of the Virgin from the Franciscan convent to the Latin Patriarchate.


Every last Sunday of the month of May at 5:00 P.M., a special Mass in the church of St. Saviour, the parish inside the walled Old city of Jerusalem is taking place. In 2010 the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Michel Sabbah, presided over the celebration of the Eucharist and the rosary procession that followed. When I asked Anna (pseudoname) about the meaning of the celebration, she told me it is dedicated to The Feast of the Visitation, which is observed on May 31, and that in Jerusalem, for Catholics, this day is the high point of these month-long devotions of Mary at her month. After a long and crowded mass at the church of the Saviour, people started the procession. The procession is accompanied by songs and the loud noises of the old city streets. A group of Catholic high school students marched in their uniforms, local Catholics join us from every corner, Franciscan nuns march together, pray the rosary and sang Marian hymns in Arabic. The statue of Mary, adorned with flowers, was carried by a group of eight school girls, dresses in white and blue, accompanied with an Arab Catholic Scout honor guard, and many other young scouts, boys and girls, in their uniforms, some parents carried young girls dressed as the Virgin, some walk with crowd and others are carried by their parents. The procession made its way through the streets of the Old City, past houses, balconies, groceries, shops, all decorated with flags and images of Mary. 

Nurit Stadler

Speical dates: 
the celebrations of the end of Mary's month, May 31