Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Cross for Pilgrims to Jerusalem: Signum Sacri Itineris Hierosolymitani

The Pilgrim Cross or Sign of the Holy Voyage of Jerusalem (in Latin: Signum Sacri Itineris Hierosolymitani) is an honor of the Holy See bestowed upon Catholic pilgrims to the holy city of Jerusalem.  

For more info, see HERE and HERE.

The medal was formally established by Pope Leo XIII after the Holy Year Anno Domini 1900 and is commonly known as the "Leonine Cross" (Croce Leonina).  

This honor is granted for the purpose of promoting pilgrimages to the Holy Land and assisting in the charities of the Franciscans who have custody of the holy sites in Jerusalem and beyond.    

The right to grant this insignia belongs to the Franciscan Custos of the Holy Land, who in the name of the Supreme Pontiff decorates pilgrims who request the honor and make a small donation. 

The medal consists of the hallowed Jerusalem Cross (consisting of five crosses, representing Jerusalem at the center of the earth with the four corners of the world surrounding it).

In the middle is a portrait of Pope Leo XIII in the center, who sought to promote with this decoration pilgrimages to the Holy Land. The crossbows show four scenes from the youth and ministry of Christ: the Annunciation, Nativity, Baptism and institution of the Holy Eucharist. 

On the other side, in the center of the Cross is the risen Christ. The crossbows show four passion scenes: Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, Christ's flagellation, the crowning with thorns, the crucifixion of Jesus. 

In Latin it reads on the front: CHRISTI AMOR CRUCIFIXI TRAXIT NOS (The love of the crucified Christ attracted us) and on the back it reads: SIGNUM SACRI ITINERIS HIEROSOLYMITANI (Sign of the holy voyage of Jerusalem).

The ribbon is red and blue, symbolic of Jerusalem and the baptized pilgrims who make their way there while the edges are marked by the colors of the Holy See, white and yellow.  There are three degrees of this pontifical honor: the golden cross, the silver cross, the bronze cross. 

The decoration is never sent.  Pilgrims receives it in person at San Salvatore, the HQ of the Custos in Jerusalem.

I make a point to offer this decoration to everyone on my pilgrimages to the Holy Land.  It comes with a numbered certificate diploma with the name of the pilgrim, signed by the Custos himself and by the Secretary of the Holy Land.  The gold cross is plated, the silver cross is solid silver, the bronze cross is solid bronze.  

Your donation helps support the numerous activities of the Franciscan Friars in the Holy Land.  You can donate by cash upon receipt or bank transfer.  The suggested minimum donation in USD is $500 (gold), $300 (silver), $200 (bronze).  The custom is that bronze is awarded for the first visit to the Holy Land, sliver for the second and gold for the third. 

To request the medal, contact the Custos via e-mail and schedule the presentation:  

This decoration reminds pilgrims of their journey, the graces received and the purpose of their encounter with Christ in Jerusalem: "Set me as a seal on your heart" (Song of Songs 8:6).

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