On September 26, 2017, the Order of Friars Minor in Lebanon dedicated a chapel to the “Flying Saint,” St. Joseph of Cupertino. The chapel is located in the garden of their St. Anthony of Padua friary in Harissa.
On the evening of September 26, as Our Lady of Lebanon looked on, a considerable crowd of faithful gathered outside the small chapel for the blessing rite. It was presided over by Friar Francesco PATTON, the Custos of the Holy Land of the Friars Minor. Others attending the dedication included the Most Reverend Gabriele CACCIA, Apostolic Nuncio to Lebanon; the Most Reverend César ESSAYAN, OFM Conv., Vicar Apostolic of Beirut; and Father Ivan SANTUS, Secretary to the Nuncio. There was also a sizeable group of Friars Minor from the Holy Land and Lebanon as well as various representatives of our own Order: Friar Martin KMETEC, OFM Conv, Vicar Custos; Friar Agnello STOIA, OFM Conv., Pastor of the Basilica of the Twelve Holy Apostles in Rome (who was passing through Lebanon); and Friar Roger KOUYOUMDJI, OFM Conv., a representative of the Provincial Custody of the Orient and the Holy Land in Lebanon. In addition, there was a large group of Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Mary.
Before the blessing, Friar Francis PATTON made a brief speech about the meaning of the chapel in this Jubilee Year of the 800th anniversary of the arrival of the first Friars to the Orient (1217-2017) and of the 500th anniversary of the infamous splitting up of the Seraphic Order (1517-2017). Our saints remain beacons of light in our search for communion within the same Franciscan calling and charism. Friar Francis mentioned three aspects of the spirituality of St. Joseph of Cupertino: loving God with all one’s heart and strength, praising God with one’s life, and loving one’s neighbor. At the end of the liturgy, the Custos gave a blessing featuring the relics of St. Joseph of Cupertino. They had been given to him by the General Postulator of the Conventual Franciscans.
At the end, everyone present took part in a fraternal agape meal.
Friar Roger KOUYOUMDJI