Terra Santa
Academic Pilgrimage, Jerusalem                                                                          German version


The Vision

The academic community “Terra Santa”, committed to the Christian faith and the pursuit of knowledge, is to be founded in Jerusalem, the city holy for the three "religions of the book". Its members think and act ecumenically, are devoted to peacemaking and open for interreligious dialogue. They are committed to one another in lasting brotherly friendship.

The members of "Terra Santa" draw their strength from the Gospel. They stick to the words of Pope Francis:

We must never forget that we are pilgrims journeying alongside one another. This means that we must have sincere trust in our fellow pilgrims, putting aside all suspicion or mistrust, and turn our gaze to what we are all seeking: the radiant peace of God’s face. Trusting others is an art and peace is an art. Jesus told us: “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Mt 5:9). In taking up this task, also among ourselves, we fulfil the ancient prophecy: “They shall beat their swords into ploughshares” (Is 2:4).

(Gaudium Evangelii, 244)

Terra Santa will make a lasting bond of friendship between theologically and scientifically committed Christians who are studying in Jerusalem, live there, visit Jerusalem frequently or feel otherwise connected with this city. Terra Santa aims to bring together people who are interested in ecumenical practice and in interreligious dialogue.

                                               Proposed attire

1 Name and Membership

The "Terra Santa Academic Pilgrimage, Jerusalem" (hereinafter referred to as "Terra Santa") is an association of Christian students and academics who are committed to the principles set out below.

2 Purpose of the Association

The term "pilgrimage" is a programme. Theologically and existentially, we - as humans - are on a lifelong pilgrimage - or, as Augustine says, "our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee, O God."

"Pilgrimage" also means a bond with the city of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, where Jesus lived in Nazareth, died and rose again.

3 Principles

Terra Santa is based on the principles of RELIGIO, PAX, SCIENTIA and AMICITIA. Terra Santa is committed to the Christian faith, to the peaceful coexistence of  all peoples, especially in the Holy Land, to the unprejudiced pursuit of education and knowledge, and to the idea of lasting fraternal friendship.

A guiding principle is the commandment of love in the Old Testament (Lev 19:18) which was repeated by Jesus of Nazareth (Mark 12:31), whose spirit and succession Terra Santa sets out to emulate. This implies a willingness to promote ecumenicalism both in principle and practice, as well as dialogue with the other religious communities in the Holy Land.


                                            View from roof of Austrian Hospice, Jerusalem

We are thinking of a local anchoring of Terra Santa at the Austrian Hospice in Jerusalem. In Vienna, the K.Ö.St.V. Rudolfina could be a meeting place, but also any other place in a church-related area would be possible.


4 Forms

Acknowledging that a number of characteristics and habits of (Catholic) Student Fraternities are proven  as community-forming, some elements from the students' tradition can  be adopted, but these forms must be adapted to the particular situation in the Holy Land. The members of Terra Santa ("pilgrims" or "peregrinae" and "peregrini") call one another "brother" and "sister" and choose a "pilgrim name."


4.1 Exterior Features

The members wear a gold, white and purple coloured ribbon. Gold and white stand for the church, the dark purple colour is reminiscent of the blood of Christ and the blood that was shed in so many wars.

4.2 Colloquial Language and Motto

With regard to the international objectives of the Association, German and English shall be equally used as common languages. Members must speak at least one of the two languages.


The members give themselves the Latin motto:

Ut omnes unum sint (John 17:21)

4.3. Coat of arms

A coat of arms in the colours of Terra Santa is suggested with four fields symbolising the principles of the association:

     Draft of Arms

Under a pilgrim's staff and a pilgrim hat:

RELIGIO: Or, the early Christian "Fish Symbol"

PAX: Argent, an olive branch, the symbol of peace, over a bridge, the symbol of dialogue.

SCIENTIA: Argent, an oil lamp above an open book. The book shows the phrase: "Scientia nubes terrentur”.

AMICITIA: Purple, a chalice surrounded by a garland of flowers as the symbol of lasting fraternal friendship.


4.4 Statutes, Rules of Procedure

The Terra Santa pilgrimage shall minimize the "legalities" of its activities.


4.5. Officers of the Association,

Chairperson, Deputy, Secretary, and Treasurer.


4.6. Club Life

Formal meetings and informative events shall be called "convents". There will be both denominational and ecumenical services. The traditional student beer ceremony shall be replaced by a civilised "Convivium".


4.6. Official Insiginia

As a sign for the office of the chairperson a pilgrim's staff is proposed, decorated with the colours gold-white-purple
Official pilgrim's staff

4.7. Probation and Membership Ceremony

As evidence of an earnest desire for membership, a maximum probationary period of one year will be required.

After the probationary period, the new member is received in a brief ceremony as part of a Convent.


4.8 Cooperation with other Organisations

Terra Santa aims to work with the representatives of Christian Churches in Jerusalem, the local Christian universities and all organisations with similar objectives: religious orders, orders of knighthood, companies like the "Friends of the Holy Land" as well as with like-minded associations in Austria and elsewhere in Europe.


4.9 Recruitment

Terra Santa intends to approach Christian students, academics, clerics and university professors, who live in Jerusalem or its environment, or are studying or working at least half a year there.


5 Summary

1 While  Christian Student Fraternities have long taken root in non-German-speaking countries (there are Catholic fraternities  in Rome, Prague, Bratislava, Tokyo, etc.), the idea of creating a Christian academic community in Jerusalem, the origin of Christianity, is new.

2 Due to practical considerations such an association must be based on an  organisational model sui generis This is the basis of the idea to create an "academic pilgrimage".

3 Given the multi-denominational circumstances of Christianity in Jerusalem -  and the theological issues arising from this, such a union needs to be ecumenical, accessible to both sexes and open to dialogue across confessional or religious boundaries. While assuming responsibility for its own destiny, it will always act in dialogue with the pastors of the Christian churches.

4 The realisation of the principle "Religio" shall be interpreted in such a way that the phrase "ut omnes unum sint" (Jn 17:21) is recognized not only as a theological principle, but viewed as a challenge in day-to-day practice - as commended in the Decree on Ecumenism "Unitatis redintegratio" of the Second Vatican Council (Chapter 5, Nov. 1964):

„The attainment of union is the concern of the whole Church, faithful and shepherds alike. This concern extends to everyone, according to his talent, whether it be exercised in his daily Christian life or in his theological and historical research.”

5 The  principle of "Patria" in  the case of Terra Santa takes the meaning of "Pax" - as a peacemaking function in the Holy Land and beyond, as the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:9)  commends us adhere to.

6 As regards the principle "Scientia", the possibilities in Jerusalem - and Israel in general - go far beyond those in Austria. This relates not only to archaeology and biblical studies, but also reaches out into the social and natural sciences.

7 "Amicitia" means the will to engage in lasting fraternal friendship, which is a not-to-be-underestimated challenge. This principle requires mutual respect and cooperative behaviour between men and women, but also between Western and Eastern Christians. The members of Terra Santa are ready to face these challenges.

8 The constitution of the "Academic Pilgrimage Terra Santa" lies halfway  between a traditional student fraternity and a mere academic reading club.

9 To discuss the implementation of the concept of "Terra Santa" we are  in touch with representatives of religious and secular organizations. Diverse kinds of academic institutions will be approached too.

Archbishop Christoph Schönborn, Cardinal of Vienna, the patron of the Austrian Hospice in Jerusalem, is invited to become “Patron of the Academic Pilgrimage Terra Santa". Rector MMag. Markus Stephan Bugnyar (CpR) who runs the hospice is responsible to him. Together with his colleague, Vice Rector Sr. Bernadette Schwarz, we ask for their advice in creating the pilgrimage Terra Santa whose objectives are identical to  the spiritual ambitions of the Austrian Hospice.



In late autumn 2014, presumably on 30th October, discussions about concrete steps towards establishing the "Terra Santa" will take place in Vienna. All interested individuals are now invited to state their willingness to participate. Please send an email to: peter.diem@gmail.com