Mgr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, consecrated Ukraine and Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on Friday in Nazareth, according to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, “so that they may listen to each other again, that she may help them to rebuild relationships of trust between them, without which there will be no future."
The ceremony was part of the Feast of the Annunciation in Nazareth, considered the city of the Virgin Mary.
“Listening is more than hearing,” Pizzaballa said. “Listening means opening oneself to the other, making room for the other within oneself, in one’s way of thinking, in the things to be done, in the perspectives to be given. It requires an attitude of trust, freedom and without expecting something in return. In a certain sense, it is like being called to become mothers, that is, to welcome in ourselves the life of another person."
The Feast of the Annunciation is an annual celebration marking the announcement of the Angel Gabriel to Mary that she was pregnant. It takes place nine months before Christmas, celebrated as the day that Jesus was born. The holiday is first mentioned in 656 C.E.
“On top of commemorating a major event from the Bible, it is also a feast reminding us of Mary’s choice to trust God’s plan despite knowing nothing about it, a choice marking the relationship that should be between God and mankind, and which is given to us every day,” a release by the Patriarchate explained.
The feast is celebrated in the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, Israel, which is thought to have been where Mary’s house was located before she married Joseph.
Pizzaballa visited the mayor of Nazareth before the celebration and a Solemn Mass attended by the country’s most important priests and bishops, including Mgr Yllana, Apostolic Nuncio to the Holy Land; Mgr Marcuzzo, Bishop emeritus; Fr. Rafic Nahra, Bishop-elect and Patriarchal Vicar for Israel. They were dressed in blue liturgical colors, usually associated with the Virgin Mary and symbolizing the heavens and purity.
Church leaders around the world, including Pope Francis, held similar ceremonies on Friday.