Great Jubilee News
"Night of Peace" Planned in Bethlehem: Pilgrims Will Welcome the Jubilee Year in Shepherds' Field

BETHLEHEM, 12 DEC 1999 (ZENIT) Pilgrims from 80 countries are expected to gather in Shepherds' Field near Bethlehem for a prayer vigil on Christmas Eve. Organizers are calling the event, whose high point will be the Midnight Mass of Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah, broadcast on giant screens, the "Night of Peace."

Pilgrims in the field where the angels announced the birth of the Christ Child to the shepherds will also be able to watch Pope John Paul II open the Holy Door of the Vatican Basilica on these screens. The event will end with fireworks to celebrate the beginning of the Holy Year and a festive Middle-Eastern meal.

Organizers expect 5,000 to 10,000 people to attend the free event, though Shepherds' Field can hold 3 to 4 times this number, if needed. All texts will be translated into Arabic and English, with the more important messages translated into Hebrew, Spanish, Italian, and French as well. The event is being organized by the Confraternity of Notre Dame of France, which can be contacted for more information, posters, or brochures at .

"We are pleased with your initiative and we encourage you to continue, knowing that it will enhance our own Jubilee celebrations," stated Fr. Robert Fortin, General Secretary for the Jubilee of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of the Holy Land, in a letter to the organizers. "Among other things, by organizing an extraordinary ceremony at the Shepherd's Field, at Beit Sahour, you are making it possible for many faithful who will not be able to attend the Mass at the Basilica of the Nativity to take an active part in a prayerful and memorable way, in the Opening of the Great Jubilee."