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Places & Organs

To avoid any doubt, let’s say straight away that our map of the Holy Land describes the places of the Holy Land where the Custody is present in the geographic and not political sense. As a preference we have used the names of the locations as they are reported in the Bible or in the tradition of the pilgrimages.

Click the map for organ location information

Red Cross = Organ & Festival Location | White Cross = Organ Location

Terra Sancta
Organ Locations












Cyprus map

Larnaca – Terra Sancta Organ Festival

Our Lady of Graces Catholic Church
Terra Santa Street
P.O.B. 40037
6300 Larnaka – Cyprus
tel: +357.24 64.28.58
fax: +357.24 63.69.53

Headquarters of the Custody of the Holy Land / Latin Catholic Church in Cypurs
Holy Cross Church | Paphos Gate | 1010 Nicosia | P.O.Box 21964

The island of Cyprus

The island of Cyprus was the first destination of the apostolic journeys of Paul and Barnabas, the latter a native of Cyprus.
Over the centuries, Christians have suffered severe persecutions that have continued up to this day, following the occupation of the northern part of the island by the Turks, in 1974.
In 2004, the Republic of Cyprus, on the Greek side of the island, joined the European Union. The total population of the Republic of Cyprus is about 800,000 inhabitants, of which 78% are Greek-Orthodox, 4% Catholics of various denominations and 18% Muslims.

The activities of the Custody of the Holy Land in Cyprus

Pope Benedict XVI was the first Pope to visit the island of Cyprus in 2010: during his brief stay in Nicosia, the country’s capital, the Pope stayed at the Apostolic Nunciature. The papal embassy is housed in the premises of the Franciscan monastery of the Holy Cross that, for centuries, has been the property of the Custody of the Holy Land.

The Friars Minor settled in Cyprus from the very beginning of the history of the Order.

Today the friars of the Custody have three monasteries/parishes in Nicosia, Larnaca (with an attached nursing home for elderly) and Limassol. From Nicosia, a clergyman travels every Sunday to celebrate the mass in a chapel of the city of Kyrenia located on the north coast of the island that is controlled by Turkish Cypriots and presided by soldiers deployed by Ankara. An important educational activity, the Terra Sancta College is much appreciated.

The organs of Cyprus



The organ installed in the church of Saint Mary of Graces in Larnaca is the only pipe organ on the island of Cyprus. It was built in 1989 by the Franciscan friar Delfin Fernandez Taboada, head of the pipe organ workshop of the Custody of the Holy Land. The nameplate on the console classifies it as “Opus IX”. The story goes that after completing the organ of the Basilica of Gethsemane (replaced in 2014 by a new Rieger organ), and wanting to keep busy, Fr. Delfin began to build the Opus IX with material from various sources. The destination of the new instrument had not been decided yet. According to original documents, the electrical circuit of the organ of Larnaca, was originally designed for the organ previously installed in the Basilica of Gethsemane. Opus IX’s elegant case recalls the style of the Italian organs of the 1800s. The body of the instrument dates back to the first years of the 1900s while the pipes were built in the German style. The transmission is electric and the organ is equipped with a single keyboard. Because there were no organ builders active in Cyprus –as it is the case still today- Fr. Delfin built the instrument without reeds. The first intended location was the church of the Terra Sancta College in Jerusalem, but then, due to the interest of Fr. Victor De La Peña, the instrument was shipped to Larnaca where the Franciscan Fr. Armando Pierucci, at the time titular organist of the Holy Sepulchre, inaugurated it in 1989 with a special concert.In recent years the organ has been repaired once by the Austrian organ builder Christian Metzler and in 2015 by the Italian Saverio Anselmi Tamburini.

The convent of the Custody of the Holy Land in Larnaca also houses two precious harmoniums of the 1800s: a French made “Dumont and Lelievre” and another made by the English firm “J. W. Sawyer – Beeston Organ Works “of Leeds with 29 registers, two keyboards and a pedal. A third harmonium “Dumont and Lelievre” can be found in the convent of the Custody of the Holy Land in Nicosia.


Principale 8’ bassi
Principale 8’ soprani
Ottava 4’
Decima quinta 2’
Decima nona 1’ 1/3
Vigesima seconda 1’
Voce umana 8’
Bordone 8’ bassi
Bordone 8 ‘ soprani
Flauto 4’
Nazardo 2’ 2/3
Tasto pedale
Subbasso 16’
Basso 8’

Rhodes and Greece



2.8) Rhodes Map

Church of Our Lady of Victory ”Santa Maria”
Kathopouli 45
Rhodes Town, Dodecanese
85100 Greece

Tel: +30 2241022305
Website: //

The Custody of the Holy Land in Rhodes

The origin of Christianity in Greece dates back to the preaching of St. Paul and so, it coincides with the birth of the Church.

The Franciscan order has been connected to the island of Rhodes since its origins. In 1219, St. Francis went to the Holy Land leaving Ancona (Italy) and traveling through the Aegean Sea islands, and Rhodes was an obligatory port.

The first historical information about the Franciscans in Rhodes dates back to June 12, 1457.

In 1522, during the long and exhausting siege by Suleiman the Magnificent who subsequently won the victory, the Church of Our Lady of Victory was destroyed by the Knights themselves in defense of the city. On January 1, 1523 the Franciscans followed the Knights into exile.

Between 1523-1720, the Franciscans went back to the island four times a year to administer the Sacraments to the Latin Catholic prisoners in Turkish jails.

The Sacred Congregation of Propaganda Fide, knowing the situation on the island considered it convenient to ask the Sublime Porte to allow two Franciscans to settle in Rhodes. This permission was granted without difficulty.

On the Vigil of the Assumption, August 14, 1897, the Sacred Congregation of Propaganda Fide issued a decree under which the Mission of Rhodes was detached from the Apostolic Prefecture of Constantinople and was erected an independent, Apostolic Prefecture which included the adjacent islands.

The Holy See in 1972 decreed that Rhodes should once again become part of the Custody of the Holy Land. The change took place June 17, 1972. Since 2004 the daily administration of the archdiocese is handled by the Franciscan friar, Father Luke Gregory, OFM, the Archbishop’s Vicar General.

The activity of the Custody of the Holy Land in Rhodes

In Greece the people are mainly Christians Orthodox (about 95% of the population) and the main Church according to Article 3 of the Greek Constitution is “the Oriental Orthodox Church” that is the official Church of the State. The Catholic Greeks, who number between 45,000 and 50,000 (0,5% of the population), are a religious minority and not an ethnic minority. Catholics and Orthodox share common forenames and family names, as well as traditions, especially on the islands. Foreign Catholic residents in Greece number more than 100,000. We let the parish priest of Rhodes, Fr. Luke Gregory, describe the pastoral activities: “In addition to all the regular and usual ministries of any parish we have the added care of the many tourists who visit the islands over the summer months. This often involves frequent hospital visits and at times visits to the police, prisons. It is essential to maintain a good working, liaising collaborating relationship with the Consular services in Rhode and Embassies in Athens. Despite the economic crisis the number of refugees arriving in the Dodecanese continues to increase. Many do not have documents. This has necessitated not only an increase on the amount of food and clothes we need to distribute but also regular visiting of the prison holding cells on Rhodes and the main prison on Kos. We are able to bring some relief to those who spend varying periods of time in prison. We are pleased to announce that a new office has been opened exclusively for Caritas Rhodes work. It is to be found in St. Clare’s parish Hall. During the winter period, free Greek, Italian and English lessons are given weekly at St. Francis’ Monastery. Private tuition is very costly and the free lessons attract many that otherwise would not be able to afford to learn Greek Italian or English, which is of course of the utmost importance for day to day life. There is a large parish library at St. Francis’s church which serves the community and is open to all. It contains books in Greek and most European language. Caritas Rhodes/and Kos continues to distribute food and clothes from its office in St. Clare’s parish hall and often from the monastery door. Toiletries are also in demand. Mothers often ask for milk for their babies. The parishioners and Rhodians are generous and give what they can to Caritas and we are very grateful. The free Greek and English lessons for the poor continue free of charge at Saint Francis’ Monastery. Caritas has been able to help and contribute this year in the food parcels that are made up for the poor in Kos. Items of food and toys are collected or bought and Christmas boxes are made for about 240 families. The families who have young children are given small gifts to ensure the children have something to open on Christmas day. The parish halls both in Rhodes St. Clare’s Hall and Kos, St. Anthony’s Hall form a focal point for different groups to meet and activities to take place. Interaction is essential especially during the winter months when most hotels and restaurants close and the locals are without work for six months. The Franciscan theatre that was restored and reopened a few years ago serves the local community, especially the State Schools and various theatre groups of Rhodes. The many concerts that are held at both Sancta Maria and St. Francis’s Church are a source of pleasure to tourist and locals alike. They give opportunity for those with musical talents to express themselves and to be seen and heard. The children are particularly enthusiastic. As with the Magnificat in Jerusalem, music brings different races, creeds and religions together in harmony and collaboration. It provides a great melting pot for the cosmopolitan island of Rhodes.”

Since the beginning of the war in Syria, the Franciscans of Rhodes have been involved in the reception of refugees. This is what Fr. Luke writes in December 2016:
“Refugees continue to flee from Syria and, through Turkey, they arrive in Greece. The numbers are much smaller than last year, but we still have 860 in Kos and around 90 in Rhodes. We have recently been contacted to open the parish hall to the refugees so they can receive free education three times a week. The teachers will be sent from the University of Aegean. ”

Pipe Organs in Rhodes

Organ in St. Maria



A music festival takes place every year in the church of St. Francis: this is a unique opportunity to hear the sound of the organ in Rhodes – and possibly – everywhere in Greece. We thank Fr. Luke and the artistic director of the festival, Chris Paraskevopoulos, who have accepted with enthusiasm the idea of collaboration with the Terra Sancta Organ Festival. Chris Paraskevopoulos is one of Greece’s greatest organ players, so we will let him describe the organ of St. Francis.

The organ of St. Francis Catholic Church in Rhodes was built in 1939 by the well known organ manufacturer, Pinchi, but its construction was not completed until after the start of the Second World War, according to the builder’s son, Guido Pinchi. This organ is still the biggest church organ in Greece. It has two manual keyboards and a pedal-board. The console is in the nave of the church and is connected to the pipes by a strong thick cable. This kind of connection is called “electrical action”. The organ has a total of 1609 pipes, 671 of which, belonging to the bottom manual keyboard, are called the Organo Grande (Great Organ) and are distributed in 11 ranks with 7 stops. The upper manual keyboard is named the Organo Espressivo (Swell Organ) and has 842 pipes distributed in 14 ranks with 10 stops. The pipes of this section are enclosed in a swell box with shutters opening towards the nave and the more they are opened by the corresponding pedal, the more sound escapes from the box. The pedal-board section has 96 pipes which are installed at the back of the organ and they are not visible from the façade. These pipes are huge, the biggest being 5 meters tall and played from the first pedal key by the Contrabass 16’ stop. There are six more stops on the console to control various accessories such as Tremolo, where a device causes the sound to vibrate, and the “Unione Tastieri”, where another device connects the two manual keyboards so that when the organist plays on the bottom manual, the upper manual also sounds. Pedal couplers are used also to connect the manuals to the pedals, as are octave intra-manual and inter-manual couplers where the super octave notes are also played from bottom notes. In order for the organ to be played successfully, a huge bellows is set beneath the chests holding the pipes and this provides the pipe systems with the air they need under pressure via leather conduits. The pipes of this organ are of the Flue and Reeds category. Most of them are Flues, like the pipes of the façade. The reeds have a metal tongue which vibrates to produce the sound. The two stops from this family are called Trumpet and Oboe. The organ also has the well known family of string-tone pipes, where pipes with small scaling produce a sound like the orchestral strings. These stops are named Viola and Coro de Violes and if the Celeste stop is added to them, the sound which is produced is undulating. The voicing of the pipes is ideal for Romantic and Contemporary music, but Baroque music can also be played with success. The organ has been restored by the Italian organ factory of Alessandro Giacobazzi under the personal care of the parish priest Father Luke, OFM.
(Text: Chris Paraskevopoulos)


Organo Grande
1) Principale 8′
2) Octave 4′
3) Twelfth 2 2/3′
4) Ripieno V Fille
5) Flauto 8′
6) Salicional 8′
7) Tromba 8′
8) UT
9) I /8 Ped
10) II/8 Ped
11) Acuta I
12) Acuta II/I
Organo Espressivo
13) Bordone 8′
14) Flauto 4′
15) Sesquialtera .. 2 2/3′+1 3/5′
16) Flautino 2′
17) Viola 8′
18) Celeste 8′
19) Coro di Violes 8′
20) Principalino 8′
21) Pienino III Fille
22) Oboe 8′
23) Tremulo
24) Contrabasso 16′
25) Basso 8′
26) Violoncello 8′

Jordan and Mount Nebo



2.7) Mount Nebo map

Mount Nebo | Memorial of Moses
Mount Nebo – Siyagha | Faysaliyah – P.O.B. 2 | 17196 Madaba | JORDAN
Tel: +962.5. 325.29.38 |Fax: +962. | e-mail:

The activity of the Custody of the Holy Land in Jordan

The Christians here are a small minority, about 220,000 out of just over 6 million inhabitants, 2.8/3 percent of the total population. Of these 220,000 about half are Orthodox. Of the other half, about 80% are Catholics, mostly of the Latin rite (alongside a few tens of thousands faithful of the Melkite rite).

In Jordan the Custody of the Holy Land is present in two locations and with two very different but prestigious activities: the Terra Sancta School situated in the capital Amman and the Memorial of Moses on Mount Nebo.

The Terra Sancta School in Amman is more than 60 years old and is highly regarded among the educational institutions of Jordan, both for the quality of the teaching, both for the facilities that it offers to its 1100 students, of which only the 42% are Christians.

Mount Nebo overlooks, from its 800 meters of height, the Jordan River valley. From this natural balcony you can lay your eyes on a large section of the Holy Land, from Jericho to the Dead Sea, all the way to Bethlehem, and up to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. From here, Moses was finally able to observe the Promised Land, that he did not enter. To emphasize the importance of this place, we remember the visit of Pope John Paul II in 2000 and that of Pope Benedict XVI in 2009. The basilica is currently the only sanctuary in Jordan. The great importance of the site lies in the fact that Moses, as a symbol of hope, is a point of contact between the three great religions of the Holy Land: Christians, Muslims and Jews.

The Memorial of Moses on Mount Nebo

The remains of a church and a monastery were discovered on the summit of the mountain, known as Syagha. The first records date back to 394; two centuries after the church was converted into a beautiful three-nave basilica with splendid mosaics; it was completed in the late sixth and early seventh century.

In 1932, the Custody of the Holy Land with the help of the Emir Abdallah, grandfather of King Hussein, succeeded in taking possession of the ruins, which were excavated and studied by the archeologists of the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum of Jerusalem starting July 1933. Later, other excavations were made. Thanks to the impetus given by the Franciscan archaeologist Fr Michele Piccirillo, the Memorial of Moses has become an essential step for every visit to Jordan.

After more than 70 years, the site has served as a springboard for the increasingly important role played by the Franciscan archaeologists in the cultural politics promoted by the government in Amman for the discovery and exploitation of the immense archaeological heritage of Jordan. The working group of the Mount Nebo became the basis for the establishment of a school for the mosaic in the nearby town of Madaba, as well as for further excavations in the surrounding region.

The Custody of the Holy Land continues his work of restoration and conservation of this place.

The Organ on Mount Nebo

The pipe organ of Mount Nebo is a small portable organ built by the organ master Nicola Puccini of Florence in 2014 and it will be inaugurated in 2015 as soon as the additional works in the Basilica are completed.

The organ was designed especially to accompany the liturgy in a chapel, but you can also do concerts of chamber music, along with other instruments. The wind pressure of 82 mm produces a clear and strong sound: the organ is equipped with shutters that ‘open and close’ the sound. Using the tuning rings, the organist can get the mean-tone temperament and the equable temperament. The keys are designed for a dynamic intonation. The Nightingale effect is suitable for pastoral songs and Christmas carols.

Organo Monte Nebo
2.7) Photograph Mount Nebo 2


Height: 100 cm
Width: 118 cm
Depth: 54 cm

Bordone of wood of 8
Flauto camino 4
Decimaquinta of 2
Nazardo soprano 2-2 / 3

Keyboard 51 notes C1-D5
Special Effects: Nightingale

Case in solid Tulipwood lacquered
Windchests in cedar
Wind pressure 82mm




Couvent de Terre Sainte
Eglise Saitn Joseph – Santa
Rue Gouraud 191 – Gemmaizeh
P.O.B. 175-282
Mar Mikhail
Beirut 1104-2030

Tel:  +961.

Christianity in Lebanon and the Franciscans

Lebanon has been a direct witness of the preaching and miracles of Jesus that took place in the region of Tyre and Sidon (Mark 7, 24). St. Paul stopped in Tyre together with his disciples on his way to Jerusalem where he would be arrested.

Until a few years ago, Lebanon was the only Arabic state with a Christian majority. Among the Christians, the Catholic Maronites are the majority.

The presence of the Franciscans in Lebanon dates back to the XIII century. In XVI century, with Tyre, Sidon, Beirut, Tripoli and Latakie (Syria), the Custody built up a network of monasteries along the Lebanese coast, acting as beacons of prayer and missionary spirit to European merchants and sailors. In 1628 the monastery of Harissa was opened. This became an Arab language school for young missionaries who came from the West and it is noteworthy because of the many Maronite Synods that were held there in which the Custos of the Holy Land often participated or was present.

The relationship of the Franciscans with the Maronites has always been great and, more, there are some who credit the Franciscans for having kept the Maronite Church within the Roman Catholic Church.

The activity of the Custody of the Holy Land in Lebanon

Today in Lebanon the Custody has monasteries in Harissa, Beirut, and  in Tripoli-El Mina; other activities take place in Tyre and Deir Minas, where it is in charge of two parishes. In Lebanon, the Franciscans do not have their own shrines, so they make their services available to the local church, especially for the most important sanctuary of the country, that of Our Lady of Lebanon. Among the many activities of the Friars in Lebanon, a special attention is devoted to young people. In Beirut, there is a hostel for troubled youth and a center of spirituality, in Harissa a vocational center and a Franciscan seminary. Many foreign residents of Beirut come to the Franciscan church to attend services conducted in their native languages. In Beirut the Friars also run a nursery. As a consequence of the war in Syria, Lebanon is filled with refugees and the Franciscans do all they can to help those in need.

The Organs of Lebanon

In the churches of the Custody of the Holy Land in Lebanon, there are no pipe organs, but there are many young people interested in music who would very much study this musical instrument, also as a mean to accompany the liturgy.
In 2016 the Terra Sancta Organ Festival has established in Lebanon the “Lebanese Pipe Organ Week”. This event is created in collaboration with the Notre Dame University and it takes place in various churches.
For more info, please visit:






Damasco/ Damascus / Damas

Eglise Latine Saint Antoine
Rue du Parlement
P.O.B. 7680 – Salhieh
Damas – Syrie

Tel : +963.11.331.62.37
Fax: + 963.11.335.38.25


The Custody of the Holy Land in Syria

The Franciscans arrived in Damascus in 1223, in Aleppo in 1238 and Latakia in 1719: it should be noted that the Custody of the Holy Land is not lacking in experience when it comes to Syria. After the Second World War, a special effort was poured into education with the creation of schools for boys and girls, schools that were nationalized in 1967. The activity then focused on the sanctuaries (especially the Memorial of St Paul in Damascus, built by Pope Paul VI as an ecumenical center and visited by Pope John Paul II in 2001) and on the four parishes, two located in Damascus, one in Aleppo and the other one in Latakia. There are other places, including the missions in the villages of the Orontes Valley: Knayeh, Yacubieh, Ghassanieh and Jisr El Shoughour.

Throughout the ages, wars and persecutions in the Holy Land have not stopped the activities of the Custody: up to these days, in these hours, the Franciscans play an important role in the operations of humanitarian aid in favor of the population, both Christian and Muslim who suffers from the war.
(for more information, click here)

The Franciscans continue to be present to “help – in the words of the Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custos of the Holy Land until August 2016 – who has lost everything, even hope.”

Hope that Monsignor Georges Abou Khazen, a Franciscan of the Holy Land now elected new Latin Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo, still has: “God was responsible for Paul’s conversion in Damascus from oppressor to preacher of the Gospel. His disciples were called Christians for the first time in Antioch, in Syria. He is able to protect his children and keep the flame of faith alight so that it can continue to be a sign of hope, of dialogue and of reconciliation”.

The Terra Sancta Organ Festival in Syria as a sign of peace and solidarity

The Custody of the Holy Land in Syria owns two beautiful pipe organs in Damascus (where a choir is present) and in Aleppo. Our parishioners have asked us to repair the organs so they can play them during the liturgies and, also, organize concerts. In other words, our Christians want to continue to cultivate the quality of their lives beyond the emergency, starting from the activities that take place in churches, related to faith and beauty. With a project coordinated by the Terra Sancta Organ Festival, in January 2016 the organ of the Church of St. Anthony in Damascus has been repaired and a series of  concerts celebrated the reparation works.

In Syria, the Terra Sancta Organ Festival is called the Damascus Pipe Organ Week and it is organized together with the Higher Institute of Music, and in collaboration with the Damascus Opera House.

In Syria  the Terra Sancta Organ Festival is the only international festival that is active in the country during the war, as a sign of solidarity that goes beyond the emergency situation. The initiative, which is being carried out for the second time around, is greatly appreciated. According to the Apostolic Nuncio to Syria, H.E. Card. Mario Zenari, “people need to find these moments of spiritual relief and music can help tremendously. We have heard too many rumors about wars, bombs, mortars falling on Damascus and this music frees us from these anxieties; it helps to elevate the soul and unites everyone in a language that requires no translation. There is a need for evenings like these and I hope that there will be others.”

What is the purpose of music in times of war? For Missak Baghdboudarian, the director of the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra, “war has taught us that life must go on and how important music is in times of war for society and for all of humanity. During war, we lose our positive side, our humanity. Only music manages to awaken the human part of our society and that is why we continue to work in spite of all of the challenges we encounter every day at every level. As musicians, our mission is to continue to work to keep society alive and to keep music alive in Syria.”




The Organ of the Church of St. Anthony in Damascus

Gebrueder Spaeth
Paepstl.. Hof lieferanten
Op. 481

1 Bourdon 16′
2 Montre 8′
3 Cor de chamois 8′
4 Oktave 4′
5 Flute à chaminée 4′
6 Fourniture 3-5 r

7 Bourdonne à cheminée 8′
8 Salicional 8′
9 Unda maris 8′
10 Dolkan 4′
11 Flute à pointe 4′
12 Cornet 3-4 r
13 Trompette 8′

14 II – I
15 II – P.
16 I – P.
17 II – I 4′
18 II – I 16′

19 Bourdon-basse 16′
20 Soubbasse 16′
21 Octavebasse 8′
22 Gedackt-basse 8′





2.6) map Mousky

Latin Church of the Assumption 12, Sh.el-Bendâqa (Bein es-Surein)
Atabah – B.P. 381
11511 Musky – Le Caire /Musky – Cairo

Tel: +20. 02 / 2590.99.06
Fax: +20. 02 / 2592.86.34

The activity of the Custody of the Holy Land in St. Saviour

Egypt has always played – as it does still today – a leading role in the history of the Middle East and in particular in the stories of the Bible: Abraham, Joseph, Jacob, Moses, and finally the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph who sought refuge here from the infanticidal wrath of King Herod.

The Franciscan fathers of the Custody have been in Egypt for centuries.

Egypt was visited by St. Francis himself who, during his voyages, among Egypt, Syria and Palestine, stayed here for several months during 1219-1220. This was the period that saw the famous encounter between the Little Poor Man and the Sultan Melek el-Kamel. In a time of war, at the height of the Crusades, Francis of Assisi leapt over the trenches to meet and dialog with the sultan, who was commonly seen as the enemy <em>par excellence, </em>the infidel. This act was a prophetic example of dialogue and a testimony to respect for different cultures, an example that today has so much to say to people of our times.

Today the Franciscans look after the great Musky convent, the long-time center of the large Latin parish of Cairo.

The development of the parish of Musky reached its climax in the last decade of the nineteenth century and the first two decades of the ’900, when it served around 20,000 people: these were mostly Italians, but there were also a good number of Maltese, Austrians, Slavs, French and Oriental.

The church of Muski, a cathedral since 1858, was a reference for all these nationalities, as witnessed by the rich archive of the parish of which the first entries date back to 1611.

When the parish was flourishing, during the Lent services would be conducted in 5 languages: Italian, Maltese, French, German and Slavic.

The parish was left virtually empty after the Egyptian revolution of 1952.

It was at that time, in order to make better use of the convent, that the Center for Christian Oriental Studies was founded. The principal aim of the Center is the development of studies relating to the Christian communities in the Middle East. The Franciscan Center for Christian Oriental Studies, with the rich heritage represented by its library, offers invaluable possibilities for study and research, and provides a major cultural service to the Christian and Muslim world. The network of relations that it maintains with institutes and individuals throughout the Middle East and the West allows it to serve as a valuable instrument for promoting coexistence and overcoming divisions and differences.

The friars of Cairo, in addition to their studies on the Christian communities of the Middle East and their unceasing welcoming of students, both Christian and Muslim, aiding them in their research, are also assiduously engaged in helping the residents of the overpopulated and impoverished Mouski district, in particular children, adolescents and large families. During the daytime, they take in children and assist many poor families with their primary necessities, notably their daily food and their most critical medical expenses.

The Franciscan Center for Christian Oriental Studies

The principal aim of the Center is the development of studies relating to the Christian communities in the Middle East and the documentation of the life and history of the Franciscans in the Holy Land. Two principal activities of the Center were established, and remain to this day: a) contact with the Christian and non-Christian cultural world, both local and foreign; b) publication of studies and research on those communities.

The library is divided into two large sections: general (theology, history, geography, art, etc.) and specialist materials, i.e., the cultural heritage of each of the Middle Eastern Christian communities: Copt, Armenian, Syrian, etc. These specialist areas include the Arab Christian section, that is, Christian religious-cultural material written in Arabic. Currently the library is considered to be one of the best in Cairo, and unique in its genre, on account of its specialization. It contains more than 50,000 volumes, in addition to a large collection of journals and Arab-Christian and Western magazines, as well as manuscripts (more than a thousand, not counting a collection of Islamic ones which are still uncatalogued).

The Organ of Musky

chiesa, interno, inside
organ view egypt mousky
organ pipes egypt mousky
2.6)eorgan console egypt mousky
2.6) FOTO mUSKY EGITTO outside

A good repair of this organ would be very appropriate. An organ concert in our church, noble and archaic, would attract a large number of listeners, especially as currently in Cairo there is no suitable organ, capable of sustaining a concert.” We forward this appeal by Fr. Vincenzo Mistrih, Honorary Director of the Franciscan Center for Christian Oriental Studies in Cairo. If there is benefactor who intends to help us make the voice of this organ heard again, both in concerts and during the liturgy, please contact us.

Photos of the Organ of Musky

For the following description, we thank the author, Fr. Mistrih.

In the 1930s, it was decided to replace the old organ with a new one. The equipment arrived in Musky all the way from Germany in 1939, just before the start of the second world war. The installation had to be postponed. It was eventually done in 1948, under the supervision of the Mr. Braun, a German engineer that was chosen because the organ was German made. Pictures of the organ are below.

The late Fr Augusto Facchini had longed to play it, but death snatched him a few months before the inauguration, which took place on March 27, 1949. The organ, neglected, was looked after and fixed by myself. From 1985-89, I was transferred to Alexandria. In the meantime, the church underwent renovation works and it seems that the workers took away some of the pipes. The situation is that three registers have no pipes. We tried to repair with pipes from here and there, but with little success.

Here is a brief description of the organ:

1) Subbass 16 (legni);
2) Bourdon 16;
3) Octave basse 8;
4) Choral basse 4;
5) Bass flut 2;
7) Basson 16;

8) Bourdon 16;
9) Prinzipal 8;
10) Bourdon 8;
11) Salicional 8;
13) Praestant 4;
14) Mixtur 4 rows;


16) I/Ped.;
17) II/Ped.;
18) I/II;
19) Sub II/I;
20) Super II/I;
21) Super I;

Second MANUAL:

22) Geigen Prinzipal 8;
23) Flut harmonique;
24) Celeste 8;
25) Gemshorn 4;
26) Quint nazard 2,2;
27) Piccolo 2;
28) Voix humaine 8;
29) fagot oboe 8; 30)

Tremolo II.

The following are in a good state: 1, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 22, 23, 24,
16, 25, 26, 27, need to be tuned.
28, 29: pipes missing.
3, 4, from First and Second Manual;
8, 10, complementari;

Couplers: good;
8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 22, 23 excelent.
30, broken!
6, 12, 15, empty.

Now, to fix this organ we need at least the follwoing registers in the second manual:
Voce celeste 8 (number 24),
Gemshorn 4 (number 25),
Piccolo 2 (number 27),
Voce umana (number 28),
Oboe 8 (number 29)
tremolo (number30).

A mechanical device to open the sliders of the second manual
A bellow with a windchest to replace the “accordeon type” bellow
A balanced expression pedal

And if this is difficult, we would need at least two registers:

Voce umana (numero 28),
Oboe 8 (numero 29)

P. Vincenzo Mistrih, Musky, 2304/5/

Jaffa, the ports, the roads



2.4.1) Giaffa e Ramle map 1

2.4.2) Acri Haifa map 2
St. Peter’s Church
Terra Santa
P.O.B. 8467
61083 Jaffa

Telephone: +972. 3 682.28.71
Opening hours of the sanctuary
8.00-11.45 /15.00-17.00

In order to pray at the sanctuaries of the Holy Land, one must first get there. That is why ports and connecting roads have a fundamental importance (one should consider that until a few decades ago there was no air transportation). In this chapter, we bring together four cities, today part of the State of Israel, where the Custody of the Holy Land is present: the port cities of Jaffa (Tel Aviv), Acre (Akko) and Haifa, and the city of Ramle, a former stop on the pilgrims’ route to Jerusalem.

Acre (Akko): its fame comes above all from the importance that the city assumed as a sea port and seat of government during the second Crusader period after Jerusalem fell into the hands of the Arab army led by Saladin (1187 AD). Both the King and the Patriarch of Jerusalem made it their capital.

The Franciscan presence dates back to the founder of the order, Francis of Assisi.

Until the city was conquered again by the Saracen armies (1291), the Provincial Minister of the Overseas Province and the Custos of the Holy Land resided here with about sixty friars.

In Acre, the Custody oversees the Latin parish and the Terra Santa School attended by over 500 Arab students, Christians and Muslims. Over the last few years, the Terra Santa School has been running a music project in collaboration with the “Tau Band” and instrument courses in partnership with the local conservatory.

Haifa: At the end of the 1940s, the Custody of the Holy Land built here a monastery that served as a stopping point for the friars arriving and departing by sea and also as a center for the pilgrims. Following the development of air transportation, this convent was closed. In 2014, the Custody returned to Haifa, which is the city with the largest number of Christians in Israel, to manage a school that runs classes from kindergarten through high school, with more than forty teachers for over seven hundred students.

Ramle: a town located on the main road connecting Jerusalem to the sea, was founded by the Umayyad dynasty in 716, becoming the capital of the region until the arrival of the Crusaders, who turned Ramle into a Lordship of the County of Jaffa and Ascalon. Because of its strategic location, great generals like Godfrey of Bouillon in the twelfth century and Napoleon in the nineteenth century had their headquarters here during their military campaigns. The Christian tradition considers Ramle to be the ancient Arimathea, the home town of that Joseph who buried Jesus in the tomb of his property (the Holy Sepulchre). In Ramle the Custody of the Holy Land takes care of the parish and manages the Terra Sancta School created to serve the local Arab community and attended by both Christians and Muslims alike. This school is developing a project of music education with the aim of setting up a brass band.

Jaffa (Yafo, Ioppe): In ancient times the city of Jaffa owed its importance to its being a natural harbour, albeit a small one with dangerous rocks off-shore.

The Acts of the Apostles refers to a close-knit community here of Jewish believers in Jesus. They were comforted by the visit of St Peter the Apostle, who came and raised from the dead a lady by the name of Tabitha. Here in Jaffa, on the rooftop of Simon the Tanner, St Peter had the vision of the sheet let down from heaven containing all sorts of creatures, both pure and impure, after which he set out for Caesarea to receive into the Church the roman centurion, Cornelius, together with all his household, the first from among the pagans to convert to Christianity (Acts 10).

The activity of the Custody of the Holy Land in Jaffa (Tel Aviv-Yafo)

In Jaffa, the Custody of the Holy Land takes care of two churches: the Church of St. Peter, on the promontory overlooking the harbor with its bell tower, and the church of St. Anthony, with the parish, the Primary and Secondary Schools catering for Israeli citizens of Arab origin. One particular activity shared by the two Franciscan fraternities of Jaffa, is the care of the many Christian immigrant communities, whose total number exceeds that of the local Christian population.

In the Church of St. Peter in Jaffa, more than in any other place, it is clear how the international dimension of the Custody of the Holy Land, thanks to the friars coming from all over the world, is of great advantage in general and specifically for the pastoral activity in favor of immigrants: this service, coordinated by the Latin Patriarchate, is carried out in different languages. Together with the Fraternity of St. Anthony, the friars of Jaffa offer religious services to Filipinos, Indians (in several languages), Eritreans, Ethiopians, Nigerians, Ghanaians, Sri Lanka, people coming from South and North America, but also from Italy, Poland and other parts of Europe. Very important is also the pastoral care for Hebrew speaking Christians. In Jaffa one can live the beauty of differences in a kaleidoscopic succession of colors and sounds.

The Organs of Jaffa


Both churches in Jaffa are equipped with a pipe organ. In the Church of S. Anthony there’s a Rieger organ built in 1896; it is today in a very bad state, having undergone many transformations over time.

In Saint Peter, instead, there’s a much smaller pipe organ. It has been there since June 15, 2014. Although its relocation is very recent, the organ is ancient, in fact we are talking about the oldest organ in activity present in both Israel and Palestine: the plate located above the keyboard in fact reads

Agati Nicomede e Fratelli
Fabbricanti d’Organi
Costruirono l’anno 1847

{N.359. Agati Nicomede & Bros, organ makers, built [it] in the year 1847 in Pistoia [Tuscany, Italy]}

An Italian organ, or rather Tuscan, rebuilt by the Spanish Franciscan organ maker Delfino Fernandez Taboada, who placed it at the Christian Information Center in Jerusalem, situated inside Jaffa Gate; here, on June 15, 2014 the instrument was dismantled by the Israeli organ maker Gideon Shamir and then reassembled in the Church of St. Peter in Jaffa.

At Jaffa, the ancient organ finally returns to resound in a church – that didn’t have one- and to make its voice heard by the Friends of Terra Sancta Organ Festival.

Organ details:

Width: 150 cm
Height: 285 cm
Depth: 70 cm

Principale 8’ Bassi
Principale 8’ Soprano
Ottava 4’
Decimaquinta 2’
Voce Angelica 8’
Flauto a Fuso 4’
Nazardo 2’ 2/3’

The keyboard has 50 notes.

The pedal is attached to the manual with the first ottava short (scavezza). There is also a drum effect.


Web: //!5206


Sabin and Gerard Levi, Organ Culture in Israel and Palestine, Lexington, USA, 2011

Nazareth and the Galilee



2.2 d) Nazareth and surrounding map

Convent and Basilica of the Annunciation
Al-Bishara str.
P.O.Box 23
16100 Nazaret

+972. 04 657 25 01 (convent)
+972. 04 656 00 01 (info point for pilgrims)
Website: //

Opening hours Basilica of the Annunciation
Lower Basilica (Grotto): 5:45 am – 9 pm
Upper Basilica: 8:00 am – 6pm

Opening hours Church of St. Joseph 7 am – 6pm
Opening hours of the Archaelogical Museum:
From Monday to Saturday: 8 am – 12 pm / 2 pm – 6pm (during winter the museum closes at 5pm)

The activity of the Custody of the Holy Land in Nazareth 

The mystery of the Incarnation begins here with the announcement by the angel Gabriel to Mary. The modern basilica contains the precious remains of “Mary’s House,” together with other testimonies to the long history of the Christian presence. The Franciscans gained possession of the sanctuary in 1620. In 1730 a small church could be built, which would last, with some modifications, until 1954. That year it was decided to undertake archaeological excavations, led by Father Bellarmino Bagatti, and to build the modern basilica that was inaugurated in 1969.

According to Christian tradition, in addition to the basilica of the Annunciation, the Church of Saint Joseph is also in Nazareth. The sanctuary is called the Church of the Nutrition because Jesus lived and grew up here until he was an adult, learning his father’s trade.

Today the Franciscans in Nazareth have a parish community of 5,000 faithful gathered around the Sanctuary of the Annunciation. The Franciscan Terra Sancta College occupies a large building connected to the convent and has about 800 Christian and Muslim students, thus fostering religious integration. Other social activities are turned to the elderly in the nursing home and the disabled who benefit from having their own center. Additionally, the Custody built some homes to support the persons in need.

The pilgrims’ hostel Casa Nova, today completely renovated, is very often the first sign of the Franciscan hospitality for the visitors to the Holy Land who here spend their first night. The location is strategic: it’s sufficient to cross the road to reach the Basilica of the Annunciation.

The activity of the Custody of the Holy Land in the Galilee

In the Galilee, a region of the State of Israel, the Custody of the Holy Land is in charge of a great number of sanctuaries, churches, archeological sites and activities, starting from Nazareth, the city of the Holy Family. The list – incomplete – includes the locations on the See of Galilee (also known as Kinneret or Lake of Genezareth) like Capharnaum (the house of St. Peter and the ancient synagogue), Tabgha (Church of the Primacy of St. Peter and site of the miracle of the multiplication of the loves and the fishes), the ancient ruins of Magdala and of the Sanctuary of the Beatitudes, the Church and Parish of St. Peter in Tiberias with the pilgrims’ hostel Casa Nova (managed by the Koinonia Community). Moving towards Nazareth one cannot fail to notice and visit the marvelous Basilica of the Transfiguration located on Mount Tabor. Near Nazareth we find Cana, where the first miracle of Jesus is commemorated and the Chapel of St. Bartholomew with the parish center stands.

In Naim, where the widow’s son resurrected, the Custody recently renovated the church (despite the fact that the village is all Muslim) for the benefit of the pilgrims. An important pastoral activity takes place in the convent of St. Gabriel Archangel in Mujeidel (Migdal Haemeq).

The Organs of Nazareth

LEE_060330_ (W)

On December 8, 2012, three organs built by the Austrian company Rieger were inaugurated in Nazareth (go to the link of the news and video report of the event). One organ was installed in the Church of Saint Joseph, another one in the Lower Basilica of the Annunciation while the largest one was placed in the Upper Basilica.

The Italian organist Paolo Oreni, chosen to play at the inaugural concert, presented the different organs during a brief interview given before the concert:

The organ in the Church of St. Joseph, really beautiful, has a keyboard with registers divided between sopranos and bass, allowing the organist to play a cantabile even with one keyboard.

The organ of the Lower Basilica, with two keyboards and 16 registers, has a very distinctive sound because, being lower, allows the execution of old baroque music with a more specific detail.

The organ in Upper Basilica, the largest and more ‘symphonic’ of the three, is divided in two bodies and features three keybords with 49 registers (registers that replicate, for the most part, the instruments of a symphonic orchestra like the flute, the oboe, the trumpet): it is a very loud instrument, because the Upper Basilica needs a powerful instrument due to the presence of the massive dome and to support the pilgrims singing in full voice. This organ is exceptional, nicely harmonized in this magnificent space.”


Inauguration of the three new organs of Nazareth (December 8, 2012)

Presentation piece (Fr. Armando Pierucci)
(Italian): //

News report (Fr. Riccardo Ceriani)
(Italian): //
(English): //

Video of the event:
(Italian): //
(English) : //
(Arabic): //

Follows the technical description of the two Rieger organs located in the Basilica of the Annunciation of Nazareth.

Organ of the Upper Church

Grand Organo I. man. C – a3

  1. Bordone 16′
  2. Principale 8′
  3. Flauto armon. 8′
  4. Gamba 8′
  5. Bordone camino 8′
  6. Ottava 4′
  7. Flauto 4′
  8. Duodecima 2 2/3′
  9. Decimaquinta 2′
  10. Ripieno grave IV 2′
  11. Ripieno acuto III 1′
  12. Cornetto V 8′ from g0
  13. Tromba 16′
  14. Tromba 8′

Positivo II. man. C – a3

  1. Principalino 8′
  2. Bordone 8′
  3. Ottava 4′
  4. Flauto camino 4′
  5. Sesquialtera II 2 2/3′
  6. Flauto 2′
  7. Decimanona 1 1/3′
  8. Piccolo 1′
  9. Cimbalo III – IV 1′
  10. Cromorne 8′


Recitativo III. man. C – a3

  1. Quintatön 16′
  2. Flauto 8′
  3. Bordone 8′
  4. Viola da Gamba 8′
  5. Viola celeste 8′ from c0
  6. Ottavina 4′
  7. Flauto trav. 4′
  8. Nazardo 2 2/3′
  9. Flauto ottav. 2′
  10. Terza 1 3/5′
  11. Pienino III – V2′
  12. Bassone 16′
  13. Tromba 8′
  14. Oboe 8′
  15. Clarino 4′
  16. Campane Tubular bells g°-g²


Pedale C-f1

  1. Principale 16′
  2. Subbasso 16′
  3. Violon 16′
  4. Ottava 8′
  5. Violoncello 8′
  6. Bordone 8′
  7. Flauto concerto 4′
  8. Bombarda 16′
  9. Trombone 8′

Couplers: II/I, III/I, III/II, I/P, II/P, III/P

Accessories:Rieger Combination System:
10 User with
1000 Combinations each with
3 Inserts each
Archive for 250 Tracks with
250 Combinations each
4 Crescendi adjustable
Copy function; Repeat function, General cancel
Console: Electric
Specials: Rieger Tuning System; Rieger Replay System


Organ of the Lower Church

Grand Organo I. man. C – a3

  1. Principale 8′
  2. Viola da Gamba 8′
  3. Bordone 8′
  4. Ottava 4′
  5. Principale 2′
  6. Ripieno III 2′
  7. Tromba 8′

Positivo (expr.) II. man. C – a3

  1. Copula 8′
  2. Salicionale 8′
  3. Flauto armon. 8′
  4. Flauto 4′
  5. Sesquialtera II 2 2/3′
  6. Flauto 2′

Pedale C-f1

  1. Subbasso 16′
  2. Bordone 8′
  3. Bassone 16′

Couplers: II/I, I/P, II/P

Accessories:Rieger Combination System:
10 User with
1000 Combinations each with
3 Inserts each
Archive for 250 Tracks with
250 Combinations each
Copy function
Repeat function
General cancel
Console: Electric
Specials: Rieger Tuning System; Rieger Replay System

Jerusalem & Surroundings



Our map of Jerusalem and surroundings is the one sketched by the Gospel and by the pilgrims during the centuries and it has no relation with the current political situation.

The presence of the Custody of the Holy Land in Jerusalem dates back to the 13th century: since 1559, its headquarters are located in the Convent of St. Saviour. The main locations under the care of the Custody are:

    • Holy Sepulchre
      (Convent and Basilica, together with the other Christian denominations)
    • Gethsemane
      (Convent, Church of All Nations, the Garden of Olives, the Grotto, the Hermitage)
    • Flagellation
      (Convent, Sanctuary of Flagellation, a museum that displays organ pipes from the 13th century)
    • Coenaculum
      (St. Francis Monastery)
    • Dominus Flevit
      (Convent and Chapel on the Mount of Olives)
    • Bethphage
      (Sanctuary and Monastery where the Franciscan Printing Press is housed and where a Christian community of around 60 families lives in a complex recently built by the Custody)
    • Bethany
      (Convent and Sanctuary near the Tomb of Lazarus)
    • Ein Kerem
      (Convent and Sanctuary of St. John which houses the organ Mauracher built in 1893, the pilgrims’ hostel)
    • Visitation
      (Convent and Sanctuary with its Costamagna organ, St. John in the Desert, Convent in Even Sapir)
  • The Custody is also present in East Jerusalem in the Arab suburb of Beit Hanina with an important parish and in West Jerusalem, in the Jewish side of the city, with the Convent of the Immaculata, better known as the Terra Sancta College, the headquarter of the Franciscan Media Center television studios and of the local branch of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land.


St. Saviour’s Monastery
1 St. Francis Street (New Gate)
P.O.B. 186
91001 Jerusalem

Map of Jerusalem and Surrounding Areas

+972. 02 / 6266.777 (reception)
+972. 02 / 6266.563 (Custodial secretary)

Church opening times: 6:30 – 8:30 working days; 8:00 – 12:00 / 17 – 19 Sundays and holidays

The activity of the Custody of the Holy Land in St. Saviour

If Jerusalem is the beating heart of Christianity, the Convent of St. Saviour is the heart of the Custody of the Holy Land. It is here that the Custos resides and the Curia has its offices. Here the many activities of the Custody take place:

  • The Latin Parish of Jerusalem (active since 1616)
  • The Fraternity of Order Friars Minor that takes care of the official pilgrimages and supports the liturgy in the Holy Sepulchre
  • The music school, Magnificat Institute

  • The Franciscan Printing Press

  • The great Library

  • The Studium Theologicum

  • The international Franciscan Seminary

  • The editorial office of the website
  • The French magazine Terre Sainte and its Arab version As-Salam Wal Khair

  • The Terra Sancta Museum (opening soon)
  • The Terra Sancta Organ Festival

  • The Technical Services Department

  • A souvenir store and other activities

Near the convent are situated the pilgrims’ hostel, Casa Nova, the Christian Information Centre and the Terra Santa School, the high school for boys and girls.

The Church of St. Saviour

The Church of St. Saviour is located inside the walls of the Old City, just behind New Gate and it is visible from anywhere in Jerusalem thanks its tall and elegant bell tower.

The Order Friars Minor of the Custody of the Holy Land took possession of the Convent of St. Saviour in 1559, after being driven out in 1551 from their first home, the Convent of Mount Zion. In other words, the Holy Coenaculum, where they were based since 1335, having bought the place from the Sultan of Egypt (the original document of the transaction is still preserved). Because it was not possible to celebrate mass and pray in the Coenaculum (a problem still unresolved today and a cause of tensions with the local Jewish community), the Pope Pius VI issued the document Divina disponente clementia on July 17, 1561 and moved to the Church of Saint Saviour the indulgences of the Coenaculum: this was confirmed in 1885 by Pope Leon XIII on the occasion of the renovation of the church and its dedication. The Custos of the Holy Land – who carries also the meaningful title of “Guardian of Mount Zion” – celebrates here the Pontifical Mass of Maundy Thursday and of the Pentecost until, God willing, the time will come when we will be able to celebrate again at the Coenaculum.

The Organ of St. Saviour
St Saviour Organ Info


Already in 1630, the Church of St. Savour had an organ, one of the two that for three centuries could be heard in Jerusalem, the other was the one of the Holy Sepulchre. (See Metodio Brlek, The Church of St. Saviour, Franciscan Printing Press, 1985 – this publication containing many details, anecdotes and a bibliography is available online at

The new church was built in 1885 and was equipped with a new organ. With the years, the organ underwent several interventions. Starting as an organ with a mechanical tracker system built according to the Venetian tradition by the company Callido-Bazzani, it was refurbished by the organ maker Locatelli from Milan. Later on, the organ making company Vegezzi-Bossi, working in Lombardy and Piedmont, equipped the organ with a pneumatic transmission system. Around the year 1960, the organ maker Tamburini, from Genova, built a new three-manual console and introduced the electric transmission. At the same time, the organ-building workshop of the Custody of the Holy Land, added a new body of pipes reusing material from different times and schools, located at a distance from the main body. The worst things was that, in the last 30 years, coinciding with the illness and death of Fr. Delfino Fernandez Taboada, head of the workshop, the organ had reached such a state of disrepair that rendered any operation of restoration and conservation unthinkable and too expensive; the total loss of identity of the instrument was also an element that was taken into consideration.

So it was decided to build a new organ. Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, now Custos of the Holy Land and President of the Terra Sancta Organ Festival, who shared with us the info above, in the booklet published in the occasion of the inauguration, remembers with gratitude and affection how he turned to Fr. Stanislau Bertagnolli, Commissioner of the Holy Land in Austria, who in 1982 helped find the financial and organizational resources for the new organ of the Holy Sepulcher and, in the following years, continued his work with the organ in Bethlehem built in 2002, the three organs of Nazareth inaugurated in 2012 and, recently, with the new organ of Saint Magdalene for the choir of the Holy Sepulcher (all these organs have been built by the Austrian company Rieger).

The organ was completed in 2007 and inaugurated with a series of concerts that took place in 2008. Concerts were organized by the Magnificat Institute of Jerusalem, with the participation of the following organists: Enrico Zanovello (opening concert of April 6), Fr. Armando Pierucci (principal organist of the Holy Sepulcher and St. Saviour, founder and director of the Magnificat Institute), Pierluigi Comparin and Lorenzo Signorini. The concerts featured also the Custody Choir and of the Yasmeen Choir of the Magnificat Institute conducted by Hania Souda Sabbara, Anne Laurent (second organist at the Holy Sepulcher) and the Brass Ensemble of Vicenza Conservatory. From then, every year, in October, the Magnificat has organized a festival of organ music.

The Rieger organ of St. Saviour was designed by Fr. Armando Pierucci and by the head of the manufacturing company Wendelin Eberle, as it is reported in the inauguration ceremony of the booklet:

“Following my discussions with Fr. Armando, it was decided that this organ should have two consoles. An electric one, which replaces the existing console, and a mechanical one, which will be placed in the lower part of the organ, where the opening for it is already there. The two consoles also work according to two different tracker systems: an electric and a mechanic one. The mechanical tracker system is very important for the organist because the musician can develop a special empathy with the instrument together with a typical sensitivity of the hand. This allows the organist organist a much more differentiated musical articulation due to the direct connection of the fingers with the valve and, therefore, he can adjust the quantity of flowing air in relation to the aperture speed of the valves. The electric system is needed because the second console is located on ground level, behind the apse.”

Details of the organ:
More details on the organ of St. Saviour are accessible by clicking on the following links:

The Organ Page
// (in Italian)

Israel Organ Association
//!6107 (in French)
//!6106 (in English)
//!6070 (in Hebrew)
//!6263 (in French)
//!6285 (in English)

Inauguration of the “Rieger” Organ – April 2008 – Jerusalem St. Saviour’s Church, Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, 2008.
Sabin and Gerard Levi, Organ Culture in Israel and Palestine, Lexington, Usa, 2011.

The video of the inauguration (April 6, 2008) in Italian:




Bethlehem – Franciscan Monastery
Santa Caterina “ad Nativitem”
P.O.B. 45 Bethlehem

Tel: +970. 02 / 274.24.25
Betlehem map
Website: //
The activity of the Custody of the Holy Land in Judea

The activities of the Custody in the Holy Land in Judea (excluding Jerusalem and its surroundings, to which we have devoted a specific section) are concentrated exclusively in two ancient cities, certainly the most famous among those administered and controlled by the Palestinian Authority: Jericho and Bethlehem.

Jericho was the most ancient fortified city of the world, dating back to 8,000 or 9,000 years ago: through its long history, the city has lived periods of great splendor and total destruction.

During the time of the British Mandate (1920-1948) the Friar Minors contributed to the rebirth of this oasis – located in that segment of the Jordanian valley that crosses the Judean desert – by introducing the cultivation of plants like the papaya and the pomelo.

In Jericho, where Jesus healed the blind Bartimaeus and converted the rich Zaccheus, the Custody oversees the Catholic parish of the Good Shepard with its 200 members and manages the Terra Sancta Schools, attended in the vast majority by Muslim students. Near Jericho, on the banks of the Jordan river, the Custody leads every year a pilgrimage in the place where Jesus was baptized: after the procession of Palm Sunday that takes place in Jerusalem, this is the biggest Christian public event in the Middle East.

In Bethlehem and its environs, the Custody of the Holy Land takes care of the complex represented by the convent and the Church of St. Catherine situated right next to the Basilica of the Nativity, where the Franciscans oversee the celebrations of Latin Rite in the grotto where Jesus was born.

Pilgrims can stay at Casa Nova, the hotel built inside the complex or in the one immediately in front. Other sanctuaries managed by the Custody and frequently visited by pilgrims are the “Milky Grotto and the Shepherds’ Field.”

The contribution of the Franciscan to the city of Bethlehem is carried out on various levels. One is represented by the activities that are aimed directly at the territory: the parish mission, the schools of boys, the ACL center and the Franciscan Social Services Office. Then we have activities that are connected to the Custody but not managed directly by it like, for example, the Società Antoniana.

Finally, many centers have grown out of the Franciscan presence in Bethlehem: not directly connected to the Custody, these centers are run by religious institutions that work together with the Franciscans.

As a sign of its social commitment and particularly of the importance of its work in the field of education, in 2013 the Custody of the Holy Land became a shareholder of Bethlehem University with an agreement, which formally sanctions the creation of a shared property (shared ownership between the Custody and the University).

It is interesting to note that all services offered are aimed at the entire population, without distinctions of creed and religion.

The Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem

According to the tradition, the grotto of the Nativity is the place where Christ was born of the Virgin Mary. On this grotto, a Basilica with a nave and 4 aisles was built and it is accessible through a humble entrance.

The Franciscans share with the Armenians and the Greek Orthodox the right to celebrate the mass and to pray in the Grotto. Luckily, for the three denominations, the date of Christmas falls on three different days, so that everyone can celebrate the birth of the Savior with solemnity and quiet. On December 24, the Latin Patriarch celebrates the Mass of Christmas Eve in the adjoining Franciscan church of Saint Catherine. The importance of the Mass on Christmas Eve in Bethlehem goes beyond the liturgical celebration of the Christians of the Latin rite: it stands as the main social event of Palestine because it’s being broadcast worldwide and because it is attended by the President of the Palestinian National Authority.

The Organ of the Church of St. Catherine


In 2002 – year of it’s construction – the organ of the Church of St. Catherine in Bethlehem was in its own way a “martyr” of the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis, when the Basilica of the Nativity and the adjoining Franciscan monastery were occupied by one side and besieged by the other side. The organ was a “martyr” in the original sense of this word meaning a witness of the events who has suffered personally.

An article published on the magazine Terra Santa in 2004 and signed by Fr. Armando Pierucci and Fr. George Lewett (who was present when the events occurred) tells how the story went.

“The installation work began in March 2002 and continued until, in early April, the basilica was besieged for 39 days: the Palestinians inside, the Israelis outside. Some Palestinians died there, many lost their health; the parish hall was completely burned in a night attack. And the organ pipes that were stored there? The wooden ones were incinerated, the metal ones melted. Fortunately other pipes had already been placed in the church. In June 2002, the Austrian organ builders returned to fix at least the material that was saved from the siege. But only in November 2003, once the destroyed pipes had been rebuilt, the work was completed and the organ was finally heard in all its glory.”

In the same article, a technical description of the organ is provided.

“In the initial phase of the project, the engineers of the “Rieger” company came several times to Bethlehem, to study the most suitable location for the placement of the pipes. The solution was found in dividing the body into two parts: the positive organ was placed in the apse under the stained glass window depicting the Nativity; everything else went into the gallery that is above the door. The sound project was, however, managed by the principal organists of the Holy Sepulcher and Bethlehem, Father Armando Pierucci and Father George Lewett, together with the director of the “Rieger” company Dr. Christoph Glatter-Gotz.

The goal was not to regret the old organ and to create an instrument that evokes the charm of Bethlehem that everyone keeps in his heart: the bagpipes of the shepherds, the angels’ song, the bells of childhood and, perhaps, even the bells of Santa Claus. But above all, they wanted to create an organ that, through its 53 registers, not to mention the nightingales, and the set of 3443 pipes, offered the ability to play a large part of the organ literature. “

Technical description

General Console

Grand Organo I. Manual C – g3

  1. Bordone 16′
  2. Principale 8′
  3. Bordone 8′
  4. Flauto armon. 8′
  5. Voce Umana 8′
  6. Ottava 4‘
  7. Flauto 4′
  8. Duodecima 2 2/3′
  9. Decimaquinta 2′
  10. Ripieno IV 2′
  11. Cornetto V 8′
  12. Tromba 16′
  13. Tromba 8′
  14. Tromba 4′


Positivo II Manual C – g3

See specification below

Recit III. Manual C – g3

  1. Bordone 8′
  2. Gamba 8′
  3. Voce celeste 8′
  4. Principale 4′
  5. Flauto ottav. 4′
  6. Duodecima 2 2/3′
  7. Ottavino 2′
  8. Piccolo 1′
  9. Ripieno V 2′
  10. Cornetto V 8′
  11. Tromba arm. 8′
  12. Oboe 8′
  13. Clarino 4′
  14. Voix humaine 8′


Pedale C – f1

  1. Contrabasso 16′
  2. Subbasso 16′
  3. Quinta 10 2/3′
  4. Violoncello 8′
  5. Flauto 8′
  6. Flauto 4′
  7. Bombarda 16′
  8. Tromba 8′
  9. Tromba 4′








Playing aids:

768 Combinations


General cancel

Magnetic card capture system


Campane (Tubular bells) g0 – g2

Campanelli (Hand bells) c0 – f2

Usignoli (Nightingale)

Specification – Postiv Organ

Positivo Manual C – g3

  1. Principale 8′
  2. Bordone 8′
  3. Salicionale 8′
  4. Ottava 4′
  5. Flauto 4′
  6. Duodecima 2 2/3′
  7. Decimaquinta 2′
  8. Decimanona 1 1/3′
  9. Piccolo 1′
  10. Ripieno V 1′
  11. Tromba 8′
  12. Cromorne 8′


Pedale C – f1

  1. Subbasso 16′
  2. Principale 8′
  3. Ottava 4′




Christoph Glatter-Götz, “Die neue Rieger-Orgel der Kirche St. Caterina (Geburtskirche) in Bethlehem” in Ars Organi, Heft 3, p. 172, September 2002.

Armando Pierucci, George Lewett, “Il nuovo organo per Betlemme. Ha 3443 canne e va canonizzato” in La Terra Santa, III-2004, Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, 2004.

Sabin and Gerard Levi, Organ culture in Israel and Palestine, (2005), Lexington KY, 2011.

Emmaus El-Qubeibeh



Convent & Sanctuary of Emmaus El-Qubeibeh


Terra Sancta
Palestinian Territories

Tel: +970. 2247.36.12
+970. 2 247.36.13 (nuns)
Fax: +970. 2 247.36.14

Opening hours of the Sanctuary
Summer: 8.00-12.00, 14.00-18.00
Winter: 8.00-12.00, 14.00-17.00
The activity of the Custody of the Holy Land in Emmaus

From the point of view of the landscape, El-Qubeibeh is one of the most beautiful and healthy places of Palestine, located at 780 meters above sea level, between hills and olive groves.

Here the Gospel setsone of its most fascinating stories, full of meaning and spiritual salvation: that of the “Disciples of Emmaus” (Lk 24,13-35). According to tradition, the village of El-Qubeibeh, just 11 kilometers north west of Jerusalem, is identified as the Emmaus of the Gospel, because of the coincidence of the distance with the one indicated in the text. This place is particularly dear to the Custody of the Holy Land that received it as a gift in 1861: a seminar (now closed) was built on the premesis. Here, the Italian friars were also interned during the Second World War. And since the Friars of the Holy Land have a strong passion and a professional inclination for archeology, during the period of their internment, they began to dig, finding “traces of settlement from the Hellenistic period to the Byzantine Empire, and then also from the time of the Redeemer, pre-crusaders houses and a beautiful monumental complex from the time of the Crusaders, considered one of the most distinctive examples of crusader colonies in Palestine” (Fr. Bellarmine Baghatti).

Today, the village of Emmaus counts more than 3,000 inhabitants and it falls under the administration the Palestinian National Authority, being part of the governorate of Jerusalem / Abu Dis. Due to the political instability of the region, the roads and access points to the village change from year to year bringing about the isolation of the Franciscan Monastery and of the Sanctuary, which until recently were a regular stop for pilgrimages to the Holy Land. That is why we really wanted to include Emmaus El-Qubeibeh in the program of the Terra Sancta Organ Festival right from the first edition, as an act of solidarity with the monks and nuns who live there permanently and to remind everyone of the beauty and dignity of this place. The Christian community of El-Qubeibeh is formed by a single Palestinian family, by the Friars Minor of the Custody, by the Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo [Deutsch: Borromäerinnen; Inglese: Sister of Saint Charles Borromeo), by the Salvatorian Sisters [Deutsch: Salvatorianerinnen; Inglese: Salvatorian Sisters] and the Missionary Srs. of the Catechism [Eng: Missionary Srs. of the Catechism], currently around twenty people from different countries (Palestine, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Mexico, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Syria, France).

The Monastery and Sanctuary of Emmaus

According to tradition, the sanctuary preserves the remains of the house of Cleophas, the disciple who hosted Jesus resurrected on Easter eve. The interior of the building is enhanced by a stylish multi-colored marble floor and by beautiful stained glass windows built be the Bayer-Zeller Company of Monaco. A painting by Joseph Jacks and a group of statues behind the altar evoke the Gospel story.

The present church was rebuilt on the ruins of the ancient sanctuary and consecrated in 1902 by the Cardinal of Milan Andrea Carlo Ferrari, the first Italian cardinal to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and, in addition, at the head of a large group of 210 pilgrims. A similar number of people flock to the Church of Emmaus every year on Easter Monday, when the Custos of the Holy Land goes there for the official pilgrimage along with his brothers and the parish of Jerusalem. At the end of the Pontifical Mass, the Custos distributes to the faithful the bread in remembrance of the blessed bread broken by Jesus in the Gospel story.

Then, for the rest of the year, silence reigns on the sanctuary: this, however, becomes a benefit for those who come here for retreats. The Franciscans continue to keep open the sanctuary despite the few pilgrims who come, assisted by the Sisters of the Catechism, which also run a kindergarten. The relationship with the local population is good, helped by the fact that the friars speak Arabic: although they are all Muslims, families send their children to the kindergarten of the nuns while the youngsters go play football on the field of the friars.

The Organ of the Church of Emmaus


The organ of Emmaus was built by the Italian firm “Inzoli cav. Pacifico di F.lli Bonizzi” in 1994. A little painting was made to honor the benefactors:

“Singing the praises of Jesus, Maria Bertilla and other benefactors donate to the sanctuary of Emmaus thanks to the interest of Fr. Giuseppe Cisternino.”

The instrument has a height of 310 cm, a depth of 66 cm and a width of 183 cm.


Mechanical action organ.

Keyboard 54 keys (C1 – F5) with diatonic keys in boxwood and chromatic keys in ebony.

Pedal board: lectern style with 13 pedals (C1 – C2) constantly linked to the keyboard


Principale 8’ Bassi
Principale 8’ Soprani
Ottava Bassi 4’
Ottava Soprani 4’
Quintadecima Bassi 2’
Quintadecima Soprani 2’
Decimanona 1’1/3
Vigesimaseconda 1’
Flauto in XII Soprani 2’2/3

Keys dividing Bass and Treble (Bassi / Soprani): B2 – C3