ASIA/HOLY LAND - Father Romanelli: we ask for help from Saint Porphyry, Bishop of Gaza, where the streets have become cemeteries

Monday, 26 February 2024 middle east   wars   saints   holy places

Gaza (Agenzia Fides) - "Today, in Jerusalem, I celebrated Mass in the liturgical memory of Saint Porphyry, Bishop of Gaza, together with other priests. We prayed and asked him for all the inhabitants of Gaza and the Strip, where he was Bishop and obtained many graces from the Lord". This is how Father Romanelli, parish priest of the Latin Church of Gaza, dedicated to the Holy Family, reports to Fides, of the prayers and supplications with which the Christians of Gaza ask for the intercession and help of their friends in Heaven, at the time of tribulation that they are experiencing together with all the inhabitants of the Strip. Saint Porphyry, born in Thessalonica - recalls Father Gabriel - had arrived in Gaza at the end of a journey linked to the Holy Land. He had lived for five years in the Jordan Valley as a penitent monk and hermit. He then continued his journey to Jerusalem, where he had also been entrusted with the custody of the Holy Relics. Finally, he became Bishop of Gaza, "where he carried out a great work of procaliming the Gospel". Christians were present in Gaza since the first spread of Christianity. Their presence preserved the memory of the passage of the Holy Family fleeing towards Egypt. Porphyry died on February 26, 420, exactly 1604 years ago. Part of his relics are in the Greek Orthodox church in Gaza, affected by the bombings. "The Holy Bishop," adds the Argentine priest, member of the Institute of the Incarnate Word, "is also the patron of our religious community in Gaza. The chapel inside the rectory is dedicated to his name." Father Gabriel, who was in Europe at the beginning of October, was unable to return to Gaza after the start of the war, but he is in daily contact with his parishioners and follows their sufferings. "The majority of the Christian community in the Gaza Strip," he explains to Fides "continues to take refuge in the Catholic church of the Holy Family, in the Zeitoun neighborhood, a few hundred meters from the Orthodox church which houses the relics of Saint Porphyry. Some Christian families are in the south of the Strip. They are people of great faith. They hope and invoke that this Via Crucis, this Calvary of all citizens ends, with the liberation of all those who are deprived of freedom, on one side and on the other, and that the wounded, tens of thousands, more than 69 thousand, are healed, and the dead are buried and their families can cry over their graves."
The streets of Gaza have become cemeteries: "As soon as there is a piece of sandy land available," says Father Romanelli, "the dead are buried there." Gaza has more than 29 thousand victims, among whom at least 12 thousand are children. In addition to about 7 thousand missing. "We - adds the priest - continue to pray, invoking that the international community, all authorities and all rulers do everything possible to stop this massacre. That this war that harms everyone, both Israel and Palestine, does not continue. Let us also pray that Porphyry, with his intercession, restores a breath of justice and peace to this piece of the Holy Land that is the Gaza Strip". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 26/2/2024)