On 11 January 2024, Nicolas Kassianides, French Consul General in Jerusalem from September 2023, was officially welcomed by the churches of Jerusalem to the Holy Sepulchre. This solemn entry, which had been postponed because of the war, took place under a rainy sky that added sobriety to this solemn moment.
For centuries, the tradition has been for the French Consul General in Jerusalem to walk in procession through the Old City to the entrance of the basilica.
The train, opened by a kawas, guided by the Franciscans and made up of representatives of the French domains and institutions in the Holy Land, progressed from the Jaffa Gate to the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, before reaching the Church of Sainte-Anne, a French national domain, where the Consul General gave an emotional address.
The École biblique et archéologique française, which is under French protection, was strongly represented by the director, the prior of the Saint-Étienne convent and numerous students – an opportunity to reaffirm the Ébaf’s contribution to France’s influence in Jerusalem.
In his speech in the church of Sainte-Anne des Croisés, run by the White Fathers, Nicolas Kassianides insisted on emphasizing France’s commitment to the Christian communities of the Holy Land:
“The privilege that obliges me is a reminder of France’s unique role in Jerusalem and, through today’s ceremony, it is France which, once again, makes a commitment and shows its unshakeable loyalty to the responsibilities that history and diplomacy have conferred upon it (…)”.
The event was marked by the seriousness of the war that has troubled the Holy Land since 7 October: “Let us form together the wish that peace may return to this land”.