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Rome Reports

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The Cenacle, site of the first Eucharist

This is the place where Jesus transformed bread and wine into his body and blood and told the apostles, “Do this in memory of me.”But the Cenacle is also linked to other historical moments - like Jesus’ first appearance to the apostles, and the arrival of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost Archbishop Pietro SambiFormer Nuncio, Holy Land"There, the Lord have instituted the Eucharist and Priesthood. It is the best place of the Church. From there started the Evangelization of the Apostles after the coming of the Holy Spirit."Friar Eugenio AlliataCustody of the Holy LandIt is not exactly the same room which is seem today, because it was rebuilt, maybe many times during the centuries, but it is according to the tradition in the same place.”Today, it’s not even a church.What we see are the ruins of a church built by crusaders during the XII century. In the year 1333, the kings of Naples purchased the cenacle from the sultan of Egypt and then gave it to the Franciscans who built the first convent in the Holy Land.In the year 1523, Ottoman troops expelled the Franciscans from the cenacle. Since then, Christians have been struggling to recuperate the property.With the birth of the Israeli state in 1948, thousands of Arabs were forced to abandon their homes. Like other properties that belonged to Palestinians who fled, the Israeli government seized the cenacle on the grounds of an “absentee property” law that says they are entitled to a place that has no owner. Since then, the Israeli government has kept it open for tourists and pilgrims, but it does not allow Mass to be celebrated there unless there are special circumstances, like John Paul II’s visit there in 2000.Archbishop Pietro SambiFormer Nuncio in Holy Land"It would be a gesture of peace and mutual appreciation, to resituate this place to the Christian community." Benedict XVI also visited the cenacle during his trip to the Holy Land. There, he prayed for the unity for Christians and asked for help so that Christians in the Holy Land are not forced to flee the land of Jesus.JMB