A Franciscan friar plays basketball with Palestinian children from the Terra Sancta school during a sport session in the Old City of Jerusalem, on March 1, 2018. AFP / Thomas COEX
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Wearing traditional brown robes held in place by a white belt with three knots symbolizing vows of "poverty, chastity and obedience," Franciscan friars have long been a part of occupied Jerusalem's landscape. Since being dispatched to the city 800 years ago by the Catholic order's founder, St. Francis of Assisi, the Franciscans have for centuries ensured a permanent Christian presence in the Holy Land.Of the Old City's 40,000 residents, 6,000 are Christian, with 3,000 of those Catholics – a number three times lower than it was 70 years ago.
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