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New Custodian of the Holy Land

May 20, 2016. Friar Francesco Patton is the new Custodian of the Holy Land. He succeeds Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, who was in office for the last 12 years. Friar Francesco Patton is 52 years old from Vigo Meano (Italy). He graduated in Communication Sciences from the Pontifical Salesian University of Rome and until now was the provincial minister of the Order of Friars Minor in Saint Vigilius of Trent.

He was planning on a nice, quiet trip to Rome, but that all changed when he walked out to St. Peter's Square and saw an old friend

"He stopped the Popemobile and told me, come on in. I jumped over the barriers with the help of the Pope's security team.” 

That friend of course, was the Pope himself. As an Argentinian priest, they had known each other since 1988, when he was ordained a deacon and eventually a priest by Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio

"I cant really say I was the Pope's super close friend. But really all of us, all priests from Buenos Aires had strong ties with him and I think that came from his availability." 

But things didn't stop there. One day after these images made their way across the globe, Father Fabian Baez got yet another surprise. 

"Yeah, the Pope called me over the phone. He said he hoped I didn't feel uncomfortable by  the whole popemobile thing.” 

The last time they'd seen each other was back on December 2012, just a few months before he was elected Pope. But, Baez thinks the Pope's invitation was much more than just a fun gesture, though that definitely was part of it... 

"Yeah, he told me the best part of it all, was seeing me jump over the barrier.”

Above all else, he says, it was a message for priests, inviting them to be close to their flock. 

"The fact that he recognized me among thousands, reminds me of God's relationship with us. We aren't just a big crowd, God seeks us out individually.” 

And that he says, made this trip unforgettable. When he goes back home, he will have plenty of stories to tell.
 

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