Brother Francesco Patton was confirmed as Custos of the Holy Land and Guardian of Mount Zion for the next three years on Friday in a Jerusalem ceremony.
He has been serving for six years already and this confirmation extends his term another three years. The confirmation took place in the refectory of St. Savior's Convent. The pope confirmed the election.
“I interpret my service first and foremost as a service to the friars,” Patton said in a video that was shared by the Christian Media Center. “I am a friar and my first task as Custos is to take care of the life and vocation of the friars of the Custody.”
The territory of the Custody includes not only Israel and the Palestinian territories, but also Syria, Jordan, Cyprus and Rhodes and Egypt. Key roles include guarding most of the places of the Incarnation of Jesus and welcoming Christian pilgrims. The Custody is also the intermediary in matters regarding the Status Quo.
Patton, 58, was born in Italy and moved to Israel in 2016 to become the 168th Custos of the Holy Land.
"There are so many things that we have started in the course of these six years. And in the course of these six years we have been able to conclude important things that were started earlier by my predecessor,” Patton said. “I think, the most significant thing, was right at the beginning to have been able once again to do together with the Greek and Armenian Church the restoration of the Wayside Shrine of the Holy Sepulchre and this was something that was started before."
He also noted that peace remains a “great challenge” for Israel and the whole Middle East, citing the 11-years long war in Syria that continues. He said Christians should be at the forefront of the battle for peace.
"We are here because the Church has given us the mandate to guard the Holy Places and the Holy Places are for us places of life and places of prayer,” Patton concluded. “We are here, I could also say, on behalf of all humanity, because we are an international fraternity, so we are here to pray for all humanity."