Holy Land Franciscans

Holy Land Franciscans 2024-04-03T10:42:25-05:00

Holy Land Franciscan Pilgrimages in Office of the Custody of the Holy Land


We are the Holy Land Franciscans.

The official title of our province is The Custody of the Holy Land. The term “custody” refers to our task of caring for the sacred shrines of the Holy Land. Many centuries ago, Pope Clement VI recognized the role of the Franciscans as caretakers of the shrines in his papal bull Gratias agimus, promulgated in 1342.

However, our origins go back even earlier. At the Franciscan General Chapter of 1217, we established the “Province of the Holy Land,” sometimes referred to as the “Province of Syria.” St. Francis, present at this chapter, no doubt had a significant influence on the decision to found this Holy Land province. It was his great love for this land, made sacred by the life and ministry of our Divine Savior, that ensured a now 800-year presence of the Franciscans.

We continue to fulfill our mandate to care for the sacred shrines today. The following is a partial list of the shrines for which the Franciscans serve as caretakers:

  • The Basilica of the Annunciation – Nazareth
  • The Basilica of the Nativity – Bethlehem
  • Capernaum – Jesus’ hometown
  • The Church of the First Miracle – Cana
  • The Basilica of the Transfiguration – Mt. Tabor
  • The Church of St. Lazarus – Bethany
  • The Basilica of the Agony – Gethsemane
  • The Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher – Jerusalem

In addition to caring for the shrines, we serve the needs of the local church by staffing numerous parishes and offering various forms of social assistance for those in need. We also offer other kinds of assistance for pilgrims, such as:

  • providing accommodations in our pilgrim guest houses (Casa Novas)
  • serving as spiritual assistants (guides) for pilgrim groups
  • offering the Sacrament of Reconciliation to pilgrims in a select number of our shrines