They are the Friars Minor and have been mandated to protect the places in the Holy Land which Jesus consecrated by his presence. It is a special mission that has been confided to them by the Holy See since 1342, as a legacy of the prophetic visit of St. Francis to the sultan of Egypt in 1219.
The Franciscans at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre celebrate daily the Roman Catholic liturgy and provide assistance to the pilgrims who throng the Shrine. Their life here is regulated by the liturgical functions of the various hours of the day and night.
The Status Quo sets forth how, when and where the different religious communities are to take turns for praying, regulating not only the liturgical calendar but also the major part of what takes place every day, month and year.
The Franciscans begin their celebration of Mass after the Armenians, at 4.30 in the morning, and conclude their services with a solemn community Eucharist at the Edicule of the Holy Sepulchre at 7.15 in the morning. For other prayers, the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament is used.
Among the liturgical celebrations is the procession led by the Franciscans each afternoon throughout the Shrine, between four and five o’clock, incensing the altars and chapels. The evocative ritual, with groups of pilgrims joining in, commemorates with hymns, antiphons and prayers the moments of the passion, death, burial and resurrection of the Lord.