London (Dec. 22)
The arrival in Rome of Mgr. Barlassina, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, is only one sign among others of the exceptional vigilance with which the Vatican is watching the situation in Palestine.
A few weeks ago, Mgr. Evan Morgan, an English prelate who is one of the chamberlains to the Pope, was sent from Rome to Jerusalem on a special mission. The precise object of his journey was not disclosed, but he was believed to be the bearer of confidential instructions to the Latin Patriarch.
The interest of the Vatican and the Italian Catholic Union for the Palestine Holy Places and Pilgrimages centers around the Coenaculum.
The allusion to the Coenaculum requires some explanation. The Coenaculum, the traditional scene of the Last Supper, fell into Moslem hands early in the Middle Ages. In the fourteenth century it was recovered by the King of Naples, and the ancient church which formerly stood on the site was replaced by another edifice, which is still in existence.
Shortly after the Ottoman conquest in the sixteenth century, the Coenaculum again passed into Moslem hands, where it has remained ever since. Mainly on the ground that it was recovered for Christendom by King Robert of Naples, the Italian Government has for some time laid claim to the Coenaculum, the possession of which, it is thought, would add to its prestige in the Near East.
This explains the special emphasis which is laid on the Coenaculum in the Italian (Roman) Catholic memorandum. The Italian Government has informed the memorialists that it watches Roman Catholic interests in Palestine with unremitting solicitude, and is doing everything in its power to safeguard them.
It is widely felt that the Vatican is engaged in a vigorous attempt to stake out as large a claim as possible in the holy places, and now has a decided advantage over its onetime rival, the Greek Orthodox Church, which is at present in low water owing to the loss of the financial and political support on which it could formerly count from Russia.