Commissariat of the Holy Land
COMMISSARIAT OF THE HOLY LAND
A Franciscan monastery that is the headquarters of a duly appointed Franciscan official—called a commissary—whose special function, together with his staff, is to interest the public in the holy places in Jerusalem, to collect funds for their support, and to recruit missionaries for work in the Holy Land. Such commissariats have been established for centuries in Europe. At the beginning of the 21st century, there were 82 commissariats in some 44 countries; the one in Washington, D.C. (Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Sepulchre), is considered one of the most important and is the principal commissariat in the United States. It was founded in New York City in 1881, and later was moved to Washington in 1899 by the builder of the Monastery of the Holy Sepulchre, Godfrey Schilling, OFM.
Besides transferring the Good Friday collections and other donations from the United States to the Holy Land, the commissariat in Washington, D.C., recruits missionaries for work in Jerusalem. The principal publication of the commissariat in Washington, D.C., is the Crusader's Almanac, a quarterly magazine about the Holy Land.
Bibliography: The Rule and Constitutions of the Order of Friars Minor (Rome 1953). Famiglie religiose della custodia di Terra Santa (Jerusalem 1963). g. cleary, The Catholic Encyclopedia, ed. c. g. herbermann et al., 16 v. (New York 1907–14) 4:164.