The Holy See
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The Pilgrimage in the Great Jubilee

I. The Pilgrimage of Israel
II. The Pilgrimage of Christ
III.The Pilgrimage of the Church
IV.The Pilgrimage towards the Third Millennium
V. The Pilgrimage of humankind
VI. The Pilgrimage of the Christian today


1.- “We are strangers before you, pilgrims only as were all our ancestors”[1]. The words King David pronounced before the Lord sketch the profile not only of the biblical person but of every human creature. In fact, the “way” is a symbol of existence which is expressed in a wide range of actions like leaving and coming back, entrance and exit, descent and ascent, walking and resting. Since the very first moment of their appearance on the stage of the world, human beings have always walked in search of new goals, investigating earthly horizons and tending towards the infinite. They navigated rivers and seas, climbed sacred mountains on whose summit the earth ideally meets the sky. They walked through time marking it with sacred dates. They considered birth as an entrance into the world and death as an exit to enter the womb of the earth or to be assumed into the divine regions. 

2.- Pilgrimages, a sign of the condition of the disciples of Christ in this world[2] , have always held an important place in the life of Christians.
In the course of history, Christians have always walked to celebrate their faith in places that indicate a memory of the Lord or in sites representing important moments in the history of the Church. They have come to shrines honoring the Mother of God and to those that keep the example of the saints alive. Their pilgrimage was a process of conversion, a yearning for intimacy with God and a trusting plea for their material needs. For the Church, pilgrimages, in all their multiple aspects, have always been a gift of grace. 
In contemporary society, which is characterized by intense mobility, pilgrimages are experiencing a new impetus. To offer a suitable response to this reality, the pastoral care of pilgrimages must be able to avail of a clear theological foundation that explains it and develops a solid and permanent praxis in the context of general pastoral care. It is necessary to keep in mind, first of all, that evangelization is the ultimate reason for which the Church proposes and encourages pilgrimages, such that they are transformed into an experience of deep and mature faith[3]

3.- Through the reflections in this document, it is hoped to offer an aid to all pilgrims and people in charge of the pastoral care of pilgrimages, so that in the light of the Word of God and of the age-old tradition of the Church, everyone may share more fully in the spiritual wealth found in the experience of pilgrimages. 


4.- Since the beginning, according to the teachings of the Holy Scriptures, and later on, all through the millennia, it is possible to identify an adamic pilgrimage: it starts with coming forth from the hands of the Creator, from the entry into the world of creation and from the subsequent wandering without aim, far from the garden of Eden[4]. The pilgrimage of Adam - from the call to walk with God, to his disobedience and to the hope for salvation - reveals the full freedom with which he was gifted by the Creator. At the same time, it discloses the divine commitment to walk beside him and watch over his steps. 
At first sight, Adam’s pilgrimage seems to be a deviation from the way towards the goal of the holy place, the garden of Eden. But even this route can be transformed into a path of conversion and of return. Wandering Cain is watched over by the loving presence of God who follows and protects him[5]. “You have noted my agitation - sings Psalm 56,8 - now collect my tears in your wineskin. Should this not be ‘in your book’?” Pursuing the way of abandonment of the prodigal son in sin is the father who is prodigal of love. It is through this divine attraction that for every person, every wrong way can be transformed into an itinerary of return and embrace[6]. Thus, there is a universal history of pilgrimages that includes a dark stage, through “the roads of darkness”[7], the crooked paths[8]. But it also includes return and conversion through the path of life[9], of justice and peace[10], of truth and fidelity[11], of perfection and integrity[12]

5.- The abrahamic pilgrimage, instead, is the paradigm of the history of salvation itself in conformity with which the faithful live. The language used in describing it (“leave your country”), the steps in Abraham’s itinerary and the relations he experienced affirm that his pilgrimage was already an exodus of salvation, an ideal anticipation of the exodus of the whole nation. By leaving his country, his family and his father’s house[13], Abraham goes with trust and hope towards the horizon that the Lord indicated, as the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us: “It was by faith that Abraham obeyed the call to set out for a country that was the inheritance given to him and his descendants, and that he set out without knowing where he was going. By faith he arrived, as a foreigner, in the Promised Land, and lived there as if in a strange country, with Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. They lived there in tents while he looked forward to a city founded, designed and built by God (...) All these died in faith, ... recognizing that they were only strangers and nomads on earth[14]. It is for a good reason that the Patriarch later defined himself “a stranger and a settler”[15] even in the promised land and like him were also to be his sons Ishmael[16] and Jacob, refugee in Paddan-aram[17] and in Egypt[18].  

6.- It was from the land of the pharaohs that the great exodic pilgrimage would ensue. The various stages - which included the departure, wandering in the desert, the trial, temptations, sin, entering the promised land - have become the exemplary model of the history of salvation[19] itself. This includes not only the gifts of freedom, of Revelation in Sinai and of divine communion, expressed in the Passover (“passage”) and in the offering of the manna, water and the quails, but also infidelity, idolatry, the temptation to go back to slavery. 
Exodus acquires a permanent value. It is a “memorial” that is always vital and comes up again even upon the return from the Babylonian exile. This is sung by the Second Isaiah as a new exodus[20], that is commemorated each time Israel celebrates the Feast of the Passover and is transformed into an eschatological representation in the book of Wisdom[21]. The final aim is in fact the promised land of full communion with God in a renewed creation[22]
The Lord himself is a pilgrim with his people: “Yahweh your God (...) has watched over your journeying through this vast wilderness. Yahweh your God has been with you these forty years and you have never been in want”[23]. He “preserved us all along the way we traveled”[24]. He, in fact, remembers with nostalgia “affection of your youth, the love of your bridal days: you followed me through the wilderness, through a land unsown”[25]. Because of this radical characteristic as a pilgrim, the biblical people is not to “molest the stranger or oppress him, for you lived as strangers in the land of Egypt ”[26]; rather, he is to “love the stranger (...), for you were once strangers in Egypt”[27]

7.- Thus, whoever prays presents himself before God as “your guest (...), a nomad”[28]. Precisely by praying, the Psalms, which were written across the millenary period of the history of Israel, attest to the historical and theological awareness of the itinerancy of the community and of the individual. And it is exactly through the devotional pilgrimage to Zion that being strangers even in one’s own land[29] is transformed into a sign of hope. The “ascent”, which, in the three great solemnities of the Feast of the Passover, Feast of Weeks and Feast of Tabernacles[30] leads Israel amidst hymns of joy (the “Song of Ascents”[31]) towards Mt. Zion, becomes an experience of stability, trust and renewed commitment to live in the fear of God[32] and in justice. Founded on the rock of the temple of Jerusalem, symbol of the Lord who is a “rock” that does not crumble[33], the tribes of Israel praise the name of the Lord[34]. They enter into communion with Him in worship, living in the tents of his sanctuary and dwelling on his holy mountain, finding an indestructible salvation[35] and a fullness of life and peace[36]. Therefore, “happy those who live in your house and can praise you all day long; and happy the pilgrims inspired by you with courage to make the Ascents!”[37]. “Up! Let us go up to Zion, to Yahweh our God!”[38] 

8.- To the people of God, victim of discouragement, burdened by infidelity, the prophets also indicate a Messianic pilgrimage of redemption, which is also open to the escathological horizon in which all peoples of the earth will stream towards Zion, location of the divine Word, of peace and of hope[39] Living again the experience of the exodus, the people of God must let the Spirit remove its heart of stone and give it one of flesh[40]. In its life’s itinerary, it must express justice[41] and faithful love[42] and rise up as a light for all peoples[43], up to the day when the Lord God will offer on the holy mountain a banquet for all peoples[44]. On the way towards the fulfillment of the messianic promise, already at this very moment, all are called to communion gratuitously[45] and in God’s mercy[46](top)


9.- Jesus Christ enters the scene of history as “the Way, the Truth and the Life”[47] and since the very beginning, he includes himself in the journey of humankind and of his people, uniting himself in some way with each man[48]. In fact, he descended from being “with God” to become “flesh”[49] and to walk along the paths of the human person. In the Incarnation, it is “God who comes in Person to speak to man of himself and to show him the path by which he may be reached”[50]
While still a baby, Jesus is a pilgrim at the temple of Zion to be presented to the Lord[51]; as a boy, with Mary and Joseph, he goes to his Father’s house[52]. His public ministry which takes place along the roads of his country, slowly takes the form of a pilgrimage towards Jerusalem which is portrayed, especially by Luke, as a long journey whose destination is not only the cross, but also the glory of Easter and the Ascension[53]. His Transfiguration reveals to Moses, to Elijah and to the apostles his impending Paschal “exodus”: “they were speaking of his passing which he was to accomplish in Jerusalem”[54]. The other evangelists, too, know this exemplary itinerary, along which the disciple must walk: “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me”, and Luke specifies “every day”[55]. For Mark, the route to the cross of Golgotha is constantly marked by verbs and words of movement and by the symbol of the “way”[56]

10.- But Jesus’ road does not end on the hill called Golgotha. The earthly pilgrimage of Christ crosses the boundary of death, into the infinite and in the mystery of God, beyond death. On the mount of the Ascension, the final step of his pilgrimage takes place. As he promises to come back[57], the risen Lord rises to Heaven and goes to his Father’s house to prepare a place for us, so that where he is, we may be with him, too[58]. In fact, this is how He summarizes his mission: “I came from the Father and have come into the world and now I leave the world to go to the Father. (...) Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, so that they may always see the glory you have given me”[59]
The Christian community, animated by the Spirit of Pentecost, goes out into the streets of the world, and is immersed in the various nations of the earth[60]. It goes from Jerusalem up to Rome, along the streets of the empire which the apostles and the heralds of the Gospel walk through. Beside them walks Christ who, as with the disciples of Emmaus, explains the Scriptures to them and breaks the Eucharistic bread[61]. Along their footsteps set out the peoples of the earth. Spiritually following the itinerary of the Magi[62], they fulfill the words of Christ: “Many will come from east and to take their places with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob at the feast in the kingdom of heaven”[63]

11.- The final destination of this pilgrimage along the roads of the world, however, is not written on the map of the earth. It is beyond our horizon, as it was for Christ who walked with the people to bring them to the fullness of communion with God. It is significant to observe that the “way” of the Lord is the road that he walked through and along which he now walks with us. In fact, the Acts of the Apostles describes the Christian life as “the way”[64] par excellence. Therefore, after having gone to teach all nations accompanied by the presence of Christ who is with us to the end of time[65], after having been “guided by the Spirit”[66] in justice and love, the Christian takes as his port of arrival the heavenly Jerusalem sung in the Apocalypse. This way/life is filled with a yearning, an ardent hope in the expectation of the coming of the Lord[67]. Our pilgrimage, therefore, has a transcendent end, knowing that we are “aliens or foreign visitors”[68] here on earth, but are destined to be “citizens like all the saints, and part of God’s household”[69]
Like Jesus who was killed outside the gates of the city of Jerusalem, we too must go “outside the camp, and share his degradation. For there is no eternal city for us in this life but we look for one in the life to come”[70]. There God will dwell with us, in that place “there will be no more death, and no more mourning or sadness. The world of the past has gone”[71]. (top) 


12.- In communion with her Lord, the Church also, a messianic people, is going forward towards a future and abiding city[72]. It transcends time and boundaries, and completely tends towards that Kingdom whose presence is already operating in all the lands of the earth. These lands have receive the seed of the word of Christ[73] and have been watered by the blood of martyrs, witnesses of the Gospel. As Paul and the apostles did, the missionaries of Christ crossed the consular and imperial roads, the caravan tracks, the maritime routes, the cities and ports of the Mediterranean. Very soon, in the East and in the West, they had to face various cultures and religious traditions and express themselves no longer just in Hebrew and Aramaic, but also in Greek and Latin and later, in a multiplicity of tongues, some of which had already been previously announced in the scene of Pentecost[74]: Arabic, Syriac, Ethiopian, Persian, Armenian, Gothic, Slavic, Hindi, Chinese. 
The steps in this pilgrimage of the messengers of the divine word branched out from Asia minor to Italy, from Africa to Spain and Gaul and, later on, from Germany to Britain, from the Slavic countries up to India and China. In modern times, they went on towards new countries and new peoples in America, Africa and Oceania, thus delineating “the journey of Christ down the centuries”[75]

13.- In the IV and V centuries, later on, various experiences of monastic life in the Church began. “Ascetic migration” and “spiritual exodus” represent two of its fundamental and inspiring forms. In this regard, some biblical figures assume a paradigmatic role in monastic and patristic literature. The reference to Abraham is linked with the theme of xeniteia (the experience of the stranger: the awareness of one who is a guest, migrant), which, among other things, constitutes the third step of the spiritual Ladder of St. John Climacus. The figure of Moses, who guides the exodus from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land, becomes a characteristic theme of ancient Christian literature, thanks especially to the Life of Moses of Gregory of Nyssa. Finally, Elijah, who climbs the Carmel and Mt. Horeb, incarnates the themes of the flight into the desert and the encounter with God. Ambrose, for example, is fascinated by the Prophet Elijah and considers the ascetic ideal of the fuga saeculi realized in him. 
The concept of Christian life as a pilgrimage, the search for divine intimacy, also by means of a detachment from the tumult of things and events, the veneration of holy places persuaded St. Jerome and the disciples Paula and Eustochium to leave Rome and settle in the land of Christ. Thus, in the grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem, a monastery was founded. This formed part of a series of numerous hermitages, lauras, cenobia in the Holy Land, but which were also spread in other regions, especially in the Egyptian Tebaide, in Syria, in Cappadocia. Following this line, pilgrimages in the desert or towards a holy place became the symbol of another pilgrimage, the interior one, as St. Augustine called to mind: “Go back into yourself: the truth lives in the person’s heart.” Yet, do not remain within yourself, but “go beyond your very self”[76], because you are not God: he is deeper and greater than you. The pilgrimage of the soul which has already been evoked by Platonic tradition, now acquires a new dimension. In its yearning for the infinity of God, the Father of the Church himself defines and represents it as follows: “One searches God to find him with more sweetness, one finds him to search him with greater ardor”[77]
The concept that “the holy place is the pure soul”[78] also becomes a constant call for the practice of pilgrimages to holy places to be a sign of progress in personal holiness. The Fathers of the Church thus render “physical” pilgrimages relative, in an effort to overcome every exaggeration and misunderstanding. Gregory of Nyssa, in particular, furnishes the fundamental principle of a correct evaluation of pilgrimages. Although he had devoutly visited the Holy Land, he affirms that the true journey to be experienced is the one that leads the faithful from the physical reality to the spiritual one, from corporeal life to life in the Lord, and not the trip from Cappadocia to Palestine.[79] Even St. Jerome confirms the same principle. In Lettera 58, he observes that Anthony and the monks did not visit Jerusalem, and yet the gates of Heaven were wide open for them just the same. And he affirms that for Christians, the motive for praise is not the fact that they have been to the Holy Land, but rather because they have lived holy lives[80]
In this interior itinerary from light to light[81], along the trail of Christ’s call to be “perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect”[82], a profile of pilgrimages is formed, one which is particularly dear to the spiritual Byzantine tradition: it is the “ecstatic” aspect that will later on develop based on the mystical doctrine of Dionysius the Areopagite, Maximus the Confessor and John Damascene.  
The divinization of the human person is the great aim of the long journey of the spirit that places the believer in the very heart of God, thus fulfilling the words of the Apostle: “I have been crucified with Christ and I live now not with my own life but with the life of Christ who lives in me”[83], therefore “life... is Christ”[84]

14.- In the IV century, when persecution by the Roman empire was over, the sites of martyrdom were opened for public veneration and the intense flow of pilgrimages started. This is also testified by documentary records, like the travel diaries of the pilgrims themselves, especially in the Holy Land. Among them stands out the witness of Aetheria, at the beginning of the V century. 
But concrete pilgrimages that walk through the streets of the world spread out in new branches. While the Arabic conquest of Jerusalem in 638 made the visit to Christian memorials in the Holy Land more difficult, new itineraries in the West were opened. Rome, the site of the martyrdom of Peter and Paul and the seat of ecclesial communion around the successor of Peter, became a fundamental destination. Thus were born the numerous “Vie Romee” ad Petri sedem, among which stands out Via Francigena which crosses the whole of Europe to point at the new holy city. But another goal was the tomb of St. James in Compostella. There were also the Marian shrines of the Holy House of Loreto, Jasna Gora in Czestochowa; visits to the great medieval monasteries, fortresses of the spirit and of culture; the places that incarnate the memory of great saints, like Tours, Canterbury or Padua. Through them a network, which “promoted mutual understanding among such different peoples and nations”[85], was formed in Europe. 
Although with some exaggerations, this great phenomenon, which involved the common masses that were animated by simple and profound convictions, nourished the spirituality, increased the faith, stimulated the charity and animated the mission of the Church. The “palmer”, the “pilgrim to Rome”, the “pilgrims” with their specific attires almost constituted their own separate “ordo”, that reminded the world of the pilgrim nature of the Christian community, that tends towards a meeting with God and communion with Him. 
A special form was attributed to pilgrimages with the advent of the Crusades between the XI and the XIII centuries. In them, the ancient religious ideal of going on pilgrimage towards the holy places of the Sacred Scriptures was mixed with the new instances and ideas typical of that historical period, that is, the formation of the class of knights, with its social and political tensions, the reawakening of commercial stimuli and cultural revolts in the East, the presence of Islam in the Holy Land. 
The conflict of power and interest often prevailed over the spiritual and missionary ideal. This attributed particular characteristics to the various Crusades, while the Churches of the East and of the West stood on the wall of division. This also influenced the practice of pilgrimages which were somehow ambiguous, as described well by St. Bernard of Clairvaux. He was an ardent preacher of the second Crusade but he did not hesitate to honor the spiritual Jerusalem present in Christian monasteries as the ideal goal of the pilgrim: “Clairvaux is this Jerusalem united to the heavenly Jerusalem by its profound and radical piety, by its life’s conformity, by some spiritual affinity”[86]. A medieval hymn, which is still present in the liturgy, clearly exalted the heavenly Jerusalem which was built on earth through the consecration of a church: “Jerusalem blessed city,/ called image of peace,/ built in the heavens/ out of living stones”[87]

15.- At this point St. Francis appeared on the horizon. Through his friars, he would be present in the Holy Land through the centuries, as custodian of the holy places for Christianity - in a cohabitation which is not always easy with other Oriental ecclesial communities - and as a support for pilgrims. Sometime around 1300, a Societas Peregrinantium pro Christo was established. It considered pilgrimages also as a missionary work. But just at that time, in 1300, the Jubilee was proclaimed in Rome. It was to transform the eternal city into a Jerusalem towards which multitudes of pilgrims would be directed, as what later on took place in the successive long series of Holy Years. The cultural and religious unity of medieval Western Europe was also nourished through these spiritual experiences. Slowly, however, there was a movement towards new and more complex models that also involved the nature of pilgrimages. 

16.- The Copernican revolution caused an evolution in the condition of pilgrim people in an immobile world, making them partakers of a universe that is in perennial movement. The discovery of the New World established the foundation needed to overcome the eurocentric vision, by means of the appearance of different cultures and the extraordinary movement of people and groups. The Christianity of the West lost its unity centered in Rome, and confessional divisions made pilgrimages more difficult, at times contested “as an occasion of sin and of despise of the commandments of God... It happens, in fact, that a persons goes on pilgrimage to Rome and spends fifty and a hundred florins and even more and leaves wife and children and maybe a neighbor at home at grips with misery”[88]. With the disintegration of the classical image of the universe, the pilgrim felt less and less like being a traveler in the common house of the world, now subdivided into States and national Churches. Thus, nearer and alternative goals came up, like the Holy Mounts and local Marian shrines. 

17.- Yet, in spite of a somehow static vision that pervaded the Christian community in the XVIII and the XIX century, pilgrimages continued in the life of the Christian community. In some places, as in Latin America and in the Philippines, they sustained the faith of generations of believers; in other places, a new spirituality came up, with new centers of faith founded on the roots of Marian apparitions and popular devotions. From Guadalupe to Lourdes, from Aparecida to Fatima, from the Santo Niño of Cebu to St. Joseph of Montreal, there is a multiplication of witness to the vitality of pilgrimages and the movement of conversion that they bring about. Meanwhile, the renewed awareness of being the traveling people of God became the most expressive image of the Church assembled in the II Vatican Council. (top) 


18.- The II Vatican Council was “a providential event” destined to constitute an “immediate preparation for the Jubilee of the Second Millennium”[89]. That ecclesial gathering - from the time it was convoked, with the converging of the pastors of the local Churches in Rome, up to its conclusion with an extraordinary Jubilee that was to be celebrated in each single diocese - was celebrated in the symbolic frame of a great and choral pilgrimage of the whole ecclesial community. This aspect was made explicit by some emblematic gestures, like those of the two pilgrim Popes, John XXIII to Loreto during the first years of the Council (1962) and Paul VI in the Holy Land, at the height of the Conciliar gathering (1964). To these two purely spiritual signs were later on added the successive papal pilgrimages along the ways of the world to proclaim the Gospel, its truth and its justice, starting from those of Pope Paul VI to the United Nations and to Bombay. 

19.- The very language of the Council symbolized the Church - in its experience as a spiritual and missionary itinerary - a travel companion at the side of the whole humankind. It was in fact a matter of asking “how we ought to renew ourselves, so that we may be found increasingly faithful to the gospel of Christ”[90]. The “pilgrim” Church of God thus became a dominant profile from the very beginning of the conciliar celebration[91]. The Church was “a signal raised amidst peoples (Is 5,26) to offer to everyone the direction of his march towards the truth and the life”[92] . The meeting with the nations, which was symbolically manifested by the visit of Pope Paul VI at the UN, was defined as the “epilogue of a laborious pilgrimage”[93]. The Council itself resulted as a “spiritual ascension”, while the Council Fathers greeted the men and women of thought as “pilgrims en route to the light”[94]

20.- The aforementioned pilgrimage of Pope Paul VI to the Holy Land was presented by the Pontiff himself in the light of the spirituality of the peregrinatio in its fundamental components. Through visits to the holy places, it intended to exalt the central mysteries of salvation, the Incarnation and the Redemption; it wanted to be a sign of prayer, penance and renewal; it aimed to fulfill the triple goal of offering to Christ his Church, of promoting unity among Christians, and of imploring divine mercy for peace among men[95]
It was the Council itself, in its Constitutions, that presented the whole Church as “present in this world and yet not at home in it”[96]. Her pilgrim nature, mentioned repeatedly[97], reveals a trinitarian aspect: its source is in the mission of Christ sent by the Father[98]; for this reason, we, too, go forth from him, live through him and our journey leads us toward him[99], and the Holy Spirit is the guide of our way which is to follow the footsteps of Christ[100]. Eucharist and Easter, which constitute the heart of the liturgy[101], by their very nature, point back to the exodus of Israel and to the banquet of pilgrimage and of alliance that it inaugurates[102] and concludes[103]

21.- The pilgrim Church spontaneously becomes missionary[104]. The command of the Risen Christ: “Go..., make disciples of all the nations”[105] places its stress precisely on “go”, an indispensable method of evangelization open to the world. Viaticum and treasure in this itinerary are the Word of God[106] and the Eucharist[107]
Sketching a passionate synthesis of the march of humankind with its conquests and its going astray[108], the Council presents the Church as a travel companion of the human family, that indicates a transcendent goal, beyond earthly history[109]. Thus, a fruitful harmony between pilgrimages and commitment in history ensues[110] and even the world is called to offer its contribution to the Church itself in a lively and intense dialogue[111]

22.- From the Conciliar event onwards, the Church lives its pilgrim experience not only in its renewal, in its missionary proclamation, in its commitment for peace, but also through numerous witnesses of the Magisterium of the Church, particularly on the occasion of the jubilee years 1975, 1983 and 2000[112]. The Holy Father Pope John Paul II became a pilgrim in the world. He is the principal evangelizer in these last two decades. Through his apostolic itinerancy and his magisterium, he has guided and solicited the whole Church to prepare itself for the third millennium, which is already close at hand. The papal pastoral trips are “stations of a pilgrimage in the local Churches..., a pilgrimage of peace and solidarity”[113]

23.- A fundamental goal of the present historical pilgrimage of the Church is the Jubilee of the Year 2000 towards which the faithful are walking beneath the vault of the Trinity. This itinerary should not be spatial but rather interior and vital, in the re-conquest of the great values of the biblical jubilee year[114]. With the sounding of the horn marking this date in Israel, slaves became free again, debts were condoned such that everyone would find again personal dignity and social solidarity, the earth spontaneously offered its gifts to everyone, reminding us that at its origin is the Creator who “water the uplands until the ground has had all that your heavens have to offer”[115]. Thus, a more fraternal community, similar to that of Jerusalem, must be born: “The faithful all lived together and owned everything in common; they sold their goods and possessions and shared out the proceeds among themselves according to what each one needed”[116]. “Let there be no poor among you... Is there a poor man among you, one of your brothers...? Do not harden your heart or close your hand against that poor brother of yours”[117]. (top) 


24.- The pilgrimage which started from Abraham and is extended throughout the centuries is a sign of a vaster and universal movement of humankind. The human person, in fact, appears in his secular history as homo viator, a traveler thirsty for new horizons, hungry for justice and peace, searching for truth, longing for love, open to the absolute and the infinite. Scientific research, economic and social development, the continuous appearance of tension, migration that goes though our planet, the very misery of evil and other enigmas that fill humankind’s being constantly interrogate him, thereby setting him on trails laid out by religions and cultures. 
Even in our days, humankind, on one hand, seems to be going towards positive goals of different natures: worldwide integration in global systems, but at the same time, sensitivity for pluralism and respect for the different historical and national identities, scientific and technical progress, inter-religious dialogue, communications that are diffused in the areopagus of the whole world through instruments that are more and more effective and immediate. On the other hand, however, in each one of these ways, ancient and invariable obstacles appear in new forms and ways: the idols of economic exploitation, abuse of one’s political position, scientific arrogance, religious fanaticism. 
The light of the Gospel guides Christians to the discovery, in these manifestations of contemporary civilization, of new “areopagi” wherein to proclaim salvation and discover the signs of longing that lead hearts to the house of the Father. 
It does not seem strange that in the whirlpool of this constant change, humankind also experiences fatigue and wishes for a place, which may be a shrine, where he could rest, a space of freedom that makes dialogue possible - with himself, with others and with God. The Christian’s pilgrimage accompanies this search of humankind and offers him the security of a goal, the presence of the Lord “for he has visited his people, he has come to their rescue”[118]

25.- Some “universal pilgrimages” assume a particular significance. We are thinking, first of all, of the vast movement of groups, of masses, at times of whole peoples, who face enormous sacrifices and risks to flee from hunger, wars, environmental catastrophe, and to look for security and well-being for themselves and for their loved ones. No one should remain an inactive spectator before these immense flows that pervade humankind, almost like currents that expand on the face of the earth. No one should feel foreign to the injustice that is often at its roots, to the personal and collective drama, but also to the hopes that bloom for a different future and a prospect of dialogue and a peaceful multiracial coexistence. The Christian, in particular, must become the good Samaritan on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, ready to help and accompany his brother to an inn of fraternal charity and a life together in solidarity. We may be led to this “spirituality of the way” by knowing, listening to and sharing the experience of that particular “people of the road” who are the nomads, the gypsies, the “children of the wind”. 

26.- Those who set out towards various destinations for reasons of tourism, scientific exploration or trade are also pilgrims of the world. These are complex phenomena which are often sources of harmful consequences because of their enormous dimensions. No one can ignore the fact that they are often a cause of injustice, of the exploitation of persons, of the erosion of cultures or of the devastation of nature. In spite of this, by their nature, they preserve the values of research, progress and the promotion of mutual understanding among peoples, which deserve to be promoted.  
It is indispensable to make it possible for those who are part of these sectors to preserve their own spirituality and interior exigencies. It is also necessary for tourism and commercial agents not to be dominated only by economic interests but also to be aware of their human and social functions. 

27.- Connected with the preceding point, and characteristic of our days, is a particular form of pilgrimage of the human mind, the informatic or virtual pilgrimage which is diffused along the ways of telecommunications. These routes, with all the risks, deformations and deviations that they involve, can be a means of proclaiming faith and love, positive messages, fruitful and efficacious contacts. It is therefore important to set out along these roads avoiding the dispersion and destruction of true communication against the “background noise” of a Babel-like myriad of information. 

28.- There are also great “lay pilgrims”, those who embark on cultural and sport itineraries. Great artistic demonstrations, especially musical ones, that witness the gathering of the youth particularly, the flow of visitors in museums that are often transformed into oasis of contemplation, Olympics and other forms of sports assembly are phenomena that cannot be ignored, also because they include spiritual values that must be protected beyond the extrinsic tension, leveling and conditioning of a commercial nature. 

29.- There are experiences of pilgrimages that are more distinctly Christian. Not only priests, but also whole families and many young people travel or accept to be sent to lands far from their own to collaborate with missionaries, both through their professional work, through witness and through the explicit proclamation of the Gospel. It is a form of being pilgrims that is continually increasing, as a gift of the Spirit. They use their vacation or holidays; or spend entire years of their life. 
Emblematic images of these spatial, but above all spiritual, movements of our times are the great ecumenical gatherings in which prayer for the gift of unity gathers Christians together in a common journey. Equally important are the inter-religious meetings that witness the roving assembly of men and women of all faiths towards a common goal of hope and of love, as what happened in the world prayer of the religions for peace, convoked in Assisi in 1986. 

30.- A true and real network of itineraries is therefore extending throughout our planet. Some are religious in the most direct sense of the term. Their goals are cities and shrines, monasteries and historical centers. In other cases, the search for spiritual values is manifested in going towards natural sites of rare beauty, islands or deserts, summits or depths of marine abysses. This complex geography of the movement of humankind contains in itself the germ of a radical desire for a transcendent horizon of truth, justice and peace; it gives witness to a restlessness which has for its port the infinity of God, where people may refresh themselves from their anguish[119].  
The march of humankind, therefore, notwithstanding its tensions and contradictions, participates in the inevitable pilgrimage towards the Kingdom of God, which the Church is committed to announce and fulfill with courage, loyalty and perseverance, being called by his Lord to be salt, leaven, lamp and city on the mountaintop. Only in this way would open paths in which “love and loyalty now meet, righteousness and peace now embrace”[120]
In this itinerary, the Church becomes a pilgrim with all men and women who search with a sincere heart for truth, justice, peace; and even with those who wander elsewhere because - as Paul, citing Isaiah, recalls - God affirmed: “I have been found by those who did not seek me, and have revealed myself to those who did not consult me”[121]

31.- All peoples and all individuals can therefore direct themselves to this aim of the Kingdom. They may also express their adhesion by means of the explicit and symbolic gesture of a pilgrimage to the various “holy cities” on earth, that is, to the places of the spirit where the message of transcendence and brotherhood resound strongest. Among these cities should also be included those places desecrated by people’s sin and later on, almost out of an instinct of reparation, consecrated by pilgrimages. Let us think for instance of Auschwitz, emblematic place of torture of the Hebraic people in Europe, the Shoà, or of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, land devastated by the horror of atomic war. 
But, as previously stated, two cities acquire the value of a sign, not only for Christians but for everyone: Rome, symbol of the universal mission of the Church; and Jerusalem, holy place and venerated by all those who follow the way of the Abrahamic religions, the city from which the Law and the oracle of Yahweh will go out[122]. This indicates the final destination of the pilgrimage of the whole humankind, that is, “the holy city... coming down from God out of heaven”[123]. We shall advance towards it in hope singing: “We are a people that is walking / and walking together we want to reach / a city that will never end, / without pain or sadness, / city of eternity”[124]
Just as the Church appreciates the poverty of the Buddhist pilgrim monk, the contemplative way of the Tao, the sacred itinerary of Hinduism in Benares, the “pillar” of pilgrimage to the sources of his faith characteristic of the Moslem, and every other itinerary towards the Absolute and towards his brothers, She joins all those who, in a fervent and sincere way, dedicate themselves to the service of the weak, the refugees, the exiles, the oppressed, and undertake with them a “pilgrimage of brotherhood”. 
This is the meaning of the Jubilee of mercy that appears at the horizon of the third millennium, point of arrival for the creation of a human society that is more just, in which the public debts of developing nations will be condoned and a more equitable distribution of land will be accomplished, in the spirit of the biblical prescription[125]. (top) 


32.- All Christians are invited to join and take part in the great pilgrimage that Christ, the Church and humankind have accomplished and must continue accomplishing in history. The shrine towards which they must be directed is to become “the Tent of Meeting”, as the Bible calls the tabernacle of the alliance[126]. There, in fact, a fundamental meeting takes place, one that reveals various dimensions and is presented under numerous appearances. It is in this series of aspects that we can delineate a pastoral care of pilgrimages. 
Lived as a celebration of one’s own faith, for the Christian, a pilgrimage is a manifestation of worship to be accomplished faithfully according to tradition, with an intense religious sentiment and as a fulfillment of his Paschal existence[127]
The very dynamics of pilgrimages clearly reveals some steps that pilgrims take. They become a paradigm of the whole life of faith; departure reveals the decision of pilgrims to go forward up to the destination and achieve the spiritual objectives of their baptismal vocation; walking leads them to solidarity with their brothers and sisters and to the necessary preparation for the meeting with the Lord; the visit to the Shrine invites them to listen to the Word of God and to sacramental celebration; the return, in the end, reminds them of their mission in the world, as witnesses of salvation and builders of peace. It is important that these steps in a pilgrimage, lived in groups or individually, are marked by acts of worship, which would reveal their authentic dimension, with the use of the texts recommended in liturgical books for this purpose. 
The aspects that each pilgrimage must necessarily include are to be harmoniously designed with just respect for the traditions of each people and adequately harmonized with the conditions of the pilgrims. It is the duty of the Episcopal Conference of every country to lay out the pastoral directives that are most appropriate to the various situations and institute the pastoral structures necessary to realize them. In the diocesan pastoral care of pilgrimages, a distinct role of Shrines is recognized. Yet, parishes and other ecclesial groups must also be represented in these pastoral structures since they are directly involved and are points of departure of the largest number of pilgrimages. 
Pastoral activity must make it such that through the peculiar characteristics of each pilgrimage, the believer would essentially accomplish a journey of faith[128]. Through an appropriate catechesis and an attentive accompaniment on the part of the pastoral agents, the presentation of the fundamental aspects of Christian pilgrimages opens new perspectives for its practice in the life of the Church. 

33.- The aim, towards which the pilgrim’s itinerary is directed, is first of all the tent of meeting with God. Isaiah already mentioned these words of God: “My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples”[129]. “At the end of the road, in which his ardent heart aspires to see God’s countenance”[130], in the shrine which fulfills the divine promise stating: “My eyes and my heart shall be always there”[131], the pilgrim meets the mystery of God and discovers his countenance of love and mercy. In a particular way, this experience is accomplished in the Eucharistic celebration of the Paschal mystery, in which Christ is “at the summit of the revelation of the inscrutable mystery of God”[132]; there one contemplates God, who is always favorable to the grace in Mary, the Mother of God[133], and He is magnified and wonderful in all His saints[134]
In pilgrimages, people acknowledge that “from the very circumstances of his origin, man is (...) invited to converse with God ”[135], and therefore through this, he is helped to discover that the way he is offered, to “remain in intimate union with God”, is Christ, the Word made flesh. The itinerary of the Christian pilgrim must reveal this “essential point by which Christianity differs from all the other religions”[136]. In their totality, pilgrimages must show “that for human beings, the Creator is not an anonymous and remote power; He is the Father”[137], and we are all his children, brothers and sisters in Christ the Lord. It is necessary to direct pastoral commitment so that such a fundamental truth of the Christian faith[138] may not be darkened by traditional customs or cultures, nor by new spiritual movements and ways. Pastoral action, however, will also aim at a constant inculturation of the evangelical message in every culture, of every people.  
Finally, the efficacy of Shrines will be measured more and more according to their capacity to respond to the growing need of a “silent and attentive contact with God and with themselves”[139] that people feel under the delirious rhythm of modern life. The route and the destination of pilgrimages lead to the blossoming of the faith and to an intensity of communion with God in prayer, by which ideally, what the prophet Malachi announced is fulfilled: “From farthest east to farthest west my name is honored among the nations and everywhere a sacrifice of incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering too, since my name is honored among the nations, says Yahweh Sabaoth”[140]

34.- Pilgrimages lead to the tent of meeting with the Word of God. The fundamental experience of the pilgrim must be that of listening because “the oracle of Yahweh (will go out) from Jerusalem”[141]. Thus, the primary commitment of the holy journey is that of evangelization which is often ingrained in the holy places themselves.[142] The proclamation, reading and meditation of the Gospel must accompany the steps of the pilgrim and the visit to the shrine itself, so that what the Psalmist affirmed may be accomplished: “Your word is a lamp to my feet, a light on my path”[143]
Because of the circumstances that they inspire, the goals to which they are directed, their nearness to daily joys and necessities, the moments of a pilgrimage are a field that is already favorable to the reception of the Word of God in the hearts[144]; thus the Word becomes the strength of the faith, the food of the soul, pure and perennial source of spiritual life[145]
The whole pastoral activity at the service of pilgrimages must concentrate its efforts in bringing pilgrims close to the Word of God. In the first place, arrangements should be made beforehand for a catechetical process that is suitable to the pilgrim’s life of faith, an expression of his cultural reality, through means of communication that are truly accessible and have been proved to be effective. On the other hand, while this catechetical presentation is to take into account the events that are celebrated in the places to be visited and their peculiar nature, it should not forget either the necessary hierarchy in the exposition of the truths of the faith[146], or a moment within the liturgical itinerary in which the whole Church participates[147]

35.- Pilgrimages also lead to the tent of meeting with the Church, “assembly of those who are called together by the Word of God to form the people of God. Being nourished by the Body of Christ, they themselves form the Body of Christ”[148]. The experience of life in common with the pilgrim brothers and sisters also becomes the occasion to rediscover the people of God walking towards the Jerusalem of peace, in praise and in song, in one faith and in the unity of the love of only one Body, that of Christ. The pilgrim must feel himself a member of the one family of God, surrounded by many brothers and sisters in the faith, under the guide of the “great Shepherd of the sheep”[149] who leads us “by paths of virtue for the sake of his name”[150] under the visible guide of pastors that he has invested with the mission to lead his people. 
When they are done by a parish community, by an ecclesial group, by a diocesan assembly or by wider groupings, pilgrimages become a sign of ecclesial life[151]. In these cases, it is possible to be better aware of the fact that all participants form part of the Church, according to their own vocation and ministry. 
The presence of a spiritual animator has a particular significance. His mission completely falls within the priestly ministry, by which priests “gather God’s family together as a brotherhood of living unity, and lead it through Christ and in the Spirit to God the Father”[152]. For the exercise of this ministry, they must have a specific catechetical preparation, to faithfully and clearly transmit the Word of God, and an adequate psychological preparation to be able to welcome and understand the diversity among all pilgrims. It will also be greatly useful for them to know history and art, to be in the position to introduce pilgrims into the catechetical wealth that pours out from the works of art that are constant witnesses of ecclesial faith in Shrines[153]
In this ministry, on the other hand, priests are not in any way to forget the specific function that belong to the laity in the living context of the “Church communion”[154]. Their active participation in the liturgical[155] and catechetical life, their specific responsibility in the formation of the ecclesial community[156] and their capacity to represent the Church in the most various human needs[157] make them apt to collaborate - after an adequate and specific preparation - in the religious animation of pilgrimages and assist their brothers and sisters during their journey together. 
The pastoral care of pilgrimages requires that there be a similar spiritual accompaniment also for those who go on pilgrimage in small groups or individually. In any case, the persons in charge of welcome in the Shrine are to arrange beforehand the necessary means for the pilgrim to realize that his journey forms part of the pilgrimage of faith of the whole Church. 
The pilgrims’ meeting with the Church and their experience of being part of the Body of Christ are to pass through a renewal of their baptismal commitment. Pilgrimages somehow reproduce the journey of faith that one day led them to the baptismal font[158], and which is now expressed anew through their participation in the sacraments.  

36.- The shrine, however, is also the tent of meeting in reconciliation. There, in fact, the pilgrim’s conscience is moved; there he confesses his sins, there he is forgiven and forgives, there he becomes a new creature through the sacrament of reconciliation, there he experiences divine mercy and grace. The pilgrim, therefore, repeats the experience of the prodigal son in sin, who experiences the hardness of trials and of penance, and also embraces the sacrifices of the trip, fasting, sacrifice. But he also experiences the joy of the embrace of the Father, rich in mercy, who leads him from death to life: “This son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found”[159]. Shrines, therefore, must be places in which the sacrament of reconciliation is celebrated intensely, shared, with a well-conducted liturgy, with available ministers and time, with prayer and songs so that personal conversion may have the divine seal and be lived ecclesially. 
Pilgrimages that lead to the Shrine must be an itinerary of conversion sustained by the firm hope of the infinite depth and power of the forgiveness offered by God; a way of conversion that “marks out the most profound element of the pilgrimage of every man and woman on earth in statu viatoris[160]

37.- The goal of pilgrimages must be the tent of the Eucharistic meeting with Christ. If the Bible is the book of pilgrims par excellence, the Eucharist is the bread that sustains them on their way, as it was for Elijah on his ascent to Horeb[161]. Reconciliation with God and with our brothers and sisters terminates in the Eucharistic celebration. It accompanies the various steps of pilgrimages, which must reflect the exodic Paschal episode, but above all the pilgrimage of Christ who celebrated his Pasch in Jerusalem, at the end of his long journey towards the cross and glory. Therefore, according to general liturgical indications and that of the individual Episcopal Conferences, “at shrines the means of salvation are to be more abundantly made available to the faithful: by sedulous proclamation of the word of God, by suitable encouragement of liturgical life, especially by the celebration of the Eucharist and penance, and by the fostering of approved forms of popular devotion”[162]
Particular pastoral attention is to be reserved to those pilgrims who, because of their ordinary conditions of life, go to Shrines to celebrate special occasions by listening to the Word of God and celebrating the Eucharist. In the joy of that event, may they discover the call to act in their daily life as messengers and builders of the kingdom of God, of His justice and peace. 

38.- It is therefore easy to understand that pilgrimages may also be the tent of meeting with charity. A charity that is first of all that of God who loved us first by sending his Son into the world. This love is not manifested only in Christ’s gift as a victim of expiation for our sins[163] but also in the miraculous signs that heal and console, as Christ himself did during his earthly pilgrimage, and which are still repeated in the history of shrines. 
“Since God has loved us so much, we too should love one another”[164]. Charity should also be lived during the journey of the pilgrim, by helping the most needy, by sharing food, time and hopes, aware that it is in this way that new travel companions will be made. A praiseworthy expression of such a charity is the tradition practiced in many places, whereby the offering, presented by the faithful as an expression of their devotion, is considered as goods that can be distributed among the poorest. Pastoral action should animate such gestures with the help of a catechesis that is always respectful of the feelings of the pilgrims and with initiatives that express the intentions of the offering. In this sense, it is best to underline the work that is being done in some shrines in favor of charitable institutions or projects for the assistance of communities in developing countries. 
Special charity is to be reserved to the sick who are on pilgrimage, remembering the words of the Lord: “In so far as you did this to one of the least of these brother of mind, you did it to me”[165]. Assistance to sick pilgrims is the most significant expression of the love that must nourish the heart of the Christian traveling towards the shrine. Sick pilgrims, above all, must be received with the warmest hospitality. It will therefore be necessary that the structures of welcome, the services offered, communications and transport should be prepared, equipped and managed with dignity, care and love. 
On their part, the sick should let the love of Christ shine in them, such that they live their illness as an itinerary of grace and of gift of self. Their pilgrimage to places in which the grace of God is manifested through particular “signs” will help them become evangelizers among their companions in suffering. Thus, from being “objects of compassion”, they become subjects of commitment and of action, true “pilgrims of the Lord” along all the roads of the world. 

39.- Pilgrimages, however, also lead to the tent of meeting with humankind. All the religions of the world, as previously mentioned, have their own holy itineraries and their holy cities. In every place of the earth, God himself becomes a meeting with the pilgrim and proclaims a universal convocation to participate fully in the joy of Abraham[166]. In particular, the three great monotheistic religions are called to find again “the tent of meeting” in the faith so that they may witness and build messianic justice and peace before all peoples, to redeem history.  
Worthy of special attention on the part of pastoral care is the fact that numerous Christian shrines are goals of pilgrimages of believers of other religions, due to secular tradition and to recent immigration as well. This solicits the pastoral action of the Church to respond with initiatives of hospitality, dialogue, assistance and genuine fraternity[167]. The hospitality reserved to pilgrims will surely help them discover the profound meaning of pilgrimages. For them, the shrine must be a place of that respect that we must manifest first of all through the purity of our faith in Christ, the one savior of the human being[168]
It should also be observed that, aside from holding big ecumenical gatherings and inter-religious meetings, the Christian must be near to all those who seek God with a sincere heart by walking through the ways of the spirit, even by “feeling their way towards him” even if God “is not far from any of us”[169]. Their very pilgrimage, often done in foreign lands, leads to the knowledge of different practices, customs and cultures. It must therefore be transformed into an occasion of communion in solidarity with the values of other peoples, brothers and sisters in the humanity that everyone shares and in the common origin of the one Creator of all. 
Pilgrimages are also moments of living together with people of different ages and formation. It is necessary to travel together to be able to proceed together in social and ecclesial life. The young go forward with their marches and the World Youth Days; the elderly and the sick, at times together with the young, towards more traditional shrines. In their multiple diversity, pilgrims fulfill together what the Psalmist wished: “All kings on earth and nations, princes, all rulers in the world, young men and girls, old people and children too! Let them all praise the name of Yahweh, for his name and no other is sublime, transcending earth and heaven in majesty”[170]

40.- Pilgrimages also have as their goal the tent of personal meeting with God and with oneself. Lost in the multiplicity of daily anxieties and realities, people need to discover themselves through reflection, meditation, prayer, an examination of conscience, silence. In the holy tent of the shrine, they must ask themselves how much “will remain of the night” of his soul, as Isaiah expresses in his song of the watchman: “Morning is coming, then night again. If you want to, why not ask, turn round, come back?”[171] The great questions on the meaning of existence, on life, on death, on the ultimate destiny of the human person must resound in the heart of the pilgrim such that the journey would not only be a movement of the body but also an itinerary of the soul. In interior silence, God will reveal himself exactly as a “sound of a gentle breeze”[172] that transforms the heart and existence. Only in this way will pilgrims not fall back into distraction and superficiality on their return home, but will preserve a spark of that light which they received in their soul and will feel the need to repeat this experience of personal fullness in the future, “inspired ... with courage to make the Ascents”[173] 
The pilgrim thus travels through the itinerary accompanied by the liturgical prayer of the Church and the simplest devotional exercises, by personal prayer and moments of silence, by the contemplation that pours forth from the heart of the poorest, who lift their “eyes (...) on their master’s hand”[174]

41.- While persons are on pilgrimage, they also have the chance to enter the tent of cosmic meeting with God. Shrines are often located in places with an extraordinary panorama; they manifest greatly fascinating artistic forms; they concentrate on themselves ancient historical memories; they are expressions of popular and refined culture. It is therefore necessary for pilgrimages not to exclude this dimension of the spirit. Above all, it is to be understood that a greater inclination to appreciate nature reveals a precious spiritual dimension of the modern person. This contemplation could become the theme of moments of reflection and prayer, so that the pilgrim may praise the Lord for the heavens that declare his glory[175], and may feel called to be a minister of the world in holiness and justice[176]
It should also be noted that, in certain ways, every pilgrimage reveals an aspect of religious tourism that must be planned not only for a cultural enrichment of the person, but also towards a fullness of the spirit. Contemplation of beauty is a source of spirituality. Therefore, “in shrines or in places adjacent to them, votive offerings of popular art and devotion are to be displayed and carefully safeguarded”[177]. Pilgrims must be shown these treasures, through guides or other materials, so that through artistic beauty and the spontaneity of age-old witnesses of faith, they may sing to God their joy and hope through art[178], they may find serenity again in the contemplation of marvelous things and “through the grandeur and beauty of the creatures (...), by analogy, contemplate their author”[179]
Pastoral action must equally take into account all those who walk through the ways of pilgrimages for other reasons, like culture or free time. The way the different places and monuments are presented show their explicit relation with the itinerary of the pilgrim, with the spiritual goal to which they lead and with the experience of faith that originated from them and they still animate. This information is to be offered to the organizers of these trips, such that they may be accomplished in utmost respect and may truly contribute to the cultural enrichment and spiritual progress of travelers.  

42.- Finally, pilgrimages are very often the way to enter the tent of meeting with Mary, the Mother of the Lord. Mary, in which the pilgrimage of the Word towards humankind converges with humankind’s pilgrimage of faith[180] , is “the one who advanced on the pilgrimage of faith”[181], thus becoming “star of evangelization”[182] for the journey of the whole Church. The great Marian shrines (like Lourdes, Fatima or Loreto; Czestochowa, Altötting or Mariazell; Guadalupe, Aparecida or Luján), and the small shrines, which popular devotion constructed in countless numbers in thousands and thousands of localities, can be privileged places for a meeting with her Son whom she gives us. Her womb was the first shrine, the tent of meeting between divinity and humanity on which the Holy Spirit descended and which “the power of the Most High [covered] with its shadow”[183] . 
Christians travel with Mary along the roads of love and join Elizabeth who typifies the sisters and the brothers in the world with whom a bond of faith and praise is to be established[184]. The Magnificat then becomes the song par excellence, not only of the peregrinatio Mariae but also of our pilgrimage in hope[185]. Christians travel with Mary along the roads of the world to ascend right up to Calvary and be beside her like the beloved disciple, so that Christ may hand her over to them as their Mother[186]. Christians travel with Mary along the roads of faith so as to reach the Cenacle in the end and there, together with her, receive the gift of the Holy Spirit from her Risen Son.[187]
Liturgy and Christian piety offer to pilgrims numerous examples of the way by which they can turn to Mary as a pilgrimage companion. They are to refer to these examples, first of all considering that the acts of piety regarding the Virgin Mary must clearly express the trinitarian and Christological dimension, intrinsically and essentially[188]. By cultivating a genuine Marian devotion[189], pilgrims enrich their profound devotion to the Mother of God with new forms and manifestations of their innermost sentiments. (top) 


43.- Pilgrimages symbolize the experience of the homo viator who sets out, as soon as he leaves the maternal womb, on his journey through the time and space of his existence. This is the fundamental experience of Israel which is marching towards the promised land of salvation and of full freedom; the experience of Christ who rose to heaven from the land of Jerusalem, thus opening the way towards the Father; the experience of the Church which moves on through history towards the heavenly Jerusalem; the experience of the whole humankind which tends towards hope and fullness. Every pilgrim should confess: “By the grace of God, I am a human person and a Christian; by my actions, a great sinner; by my condition as a pilgrim without a roof, of the lowliest species that goes wandering from place to place. My possessions are a sack on my shoulders with a bit of dry bread and a Holy Bible that I carry under my shirt. No other thing do I have”[190]
The Word of God and the Eucharist accompany us in this pilgrimage towards the heavenly Jerusalem, of which shrines are a visible and living sign. When we will reach it, the gates of the Kingdom will open, we will abandon the traveling attire and the staff of the pilgrim and we shall enter our house definitively “to stay with the Lord for ever”[191]. There he will be in our midst as “the one who serves”[192] and he will share our meal, side by side with us[193].

The Holy Father, John Paul II, on April 11, 1998, approved the publication of the present document. 

Città del Vaticano, 25 aprile 1998. 

Giovanni Cardinale CHELI, Presidente
Arcivescovo Francesco GIOIA, Segretario 


[1]1 Ch 29, 15. 

[2]Cfr. II Vat. Ecum. Council. Dogm. Const. Lumen Gentium, 49. 


[4]Cfr. Gn 3, 23-24. 

[5]Cfr. Gn 4, 15. 

[6]Cfr. Lk 15, 11-32. 

[7]Pr 2, 13; 4, 19. 

[8]Cfr. Pr 2, 15; 10, 9; 21, 8. 

[9]Cfr. Pr 2, 19; 5, 6; 6, 23; 15, 24. 

[10]Cfr. Pr 8, 20; 12, 28; Ba 3, 13; Is 59, 8. 

[11]Cfr. Ps 119, 30; Tb 1, 3. 

[12]Cfr. Ps 101, 2. 

[13]Cfr. Gn 12, 1-4. 

[14]Heb 11, 8-10.13. 

[15]Gn 23, 4. 

[16]Cfr. Gn 21, 9-21; 26, 12-18. 

[17]Cfr. Gn 28, 2. 

[18]Cfr. Gn 47 and 50. 

[19]Cfr. 1 Co 10, 1-13. 

[20]Cfr. Is 43, 16-21. 

[21]Cfr. Ws 11-19. 

[22]Cfr. Ws 19. 

[23]Dt 2, 7. 

[24]Jos 24, 17. 

[25]Jr 2, 2. 

[26]Ex 22, 20. 

[27]Dt 10, 19; cfr. 24, 17. 

[28]Ps 39, 12; cfr. 119, 19. 

[29]Cfr. Lv 25, 23. 

[30]Cfr. Ex 34, 24. 

[31]Cfr. Ps 120-134. 

[32]Cfr. Ps 128, 1. 

[33]Cfr. Dt 32, 18: Ps 18, 2; 46, 2-8. 

[34]Cfr. Ps 122, 4. 

[35]Cfr. Ps 15, 1.5. 

[36]Cfr. Ps 43, 3-4. 

[37]Ps 84, 4-5. 

[38]Jr 31, 6; cfr. Is 2, 5. 

[39]Cfr. Is 2, 2-4; 56, 6-8; 66, 18-23; Mi 4, 1-4; Zc 8, 20-23. 

[40]Cfr. Ezk 36, 26-27 

[41]Cfr. Is 1, 17. 

[42]Cfr. Hos 2, 16-18. 

[43]Cfr. Is 60, 3-6. 

[44]Cfr. Is 25, 6. 

[45]Cfr. Is 55, 1-2. 

[46]Cfr. Ezk 34, 11-16. 

[47]Jn 14, 6. 

[48]Cfr. Pope John Paul II, Encycl. Let. Redemptor Hominis, 18. 

[49]Jn 1, 2.14. 

[50]Pope John Paul II, Apost. Let. Tertio Millennio Adveniente,  6. 

[51]Cfr. Lk 2, 22-24. 

[52]Cfr. Lk 2, 49. 

[53]Cfr. Lk 9, 51; 24, 51. 

[54]Lk 9, 31. 

[55]Mt 16, 24; cfr. Mt 10, 38 and Lk 9, 23. 

[56]Cfr. Mk 8, 27.34; 9, 33-34; 10, 

[57]Cfr. Ac 1, 11. 

[58]Cfr. Jn 14, 2-3. 

[59]Jn 16, 28; 17, 24. 

[60]Ac 2, 9-11. 

[61]Cfr. Lk 24, 13-35. 

[62]Cfr. Mt 2, 1-12. 

[63]Mt 8, 11. 

[64]Cfr. Ac 2, 28; 9, 2; 16, 17; 18, 25-26; 19, 9.23; 22, 4; 24, 14.32. 

[65]Cfr. Mt 28, 19-20. 

[66]Ga 5, 16. 

[67]Cfr. Rv 22, 17.20. 

[68]Cfr. Ep 2, 19; 1 Pt 2, 11 

[69]Ep 2, 19 

[70]Heb 13, 13-14. 

[71]Rv 21, 4. 

[72]Cfr. II VAT. ECUM. COUNCIL, Dogm. Const. Lumen Gentium, 9. 

[73]Cfr. Ac 8, 4. 

[74]Cfr. Ac 2, 7-11. 

[75]POPE JOHN PAUL II, Apost. Let. Tertio Millennio Adveniente, 25. 

[76]Cfr. St. AUGUSTINE, De vera religione 39, 72: CCL 32, 234; PL 34, 154.  

[77]S. AUGUSTINE, De Trinitate 15, 2, 2: CCL 50, 461; PL 42, 1058. 

[78]ORIGEN, In Leviticum XIII,5: SCh 287, 220; PG 12, 551.  

[79]Cfr. ST. GREGORY OF NYSSA, Lettera 2, 18: SCh 363, 122; PG 46, 1013. 

[80]Cfr. ST. JEROME. Lettera 58, 2-3: CSEL 54, 529-532; PL 22, 580-581 . 

[81]Cfr. Ps 36, 9. 

[82] Mt 5, 48. 

[83]Ga 2, 20. 

[84]Ph 1, 21. 

[85]POPE JOHN PAUL II, Discourse during a visit to Vienna (10 September 1983): AAS 76 (1984), p. 140.  

[86]ST. BERNARD, Letter to the Bishop of Lincoln, Let. 64, 2: PL 182, 169ff. 

[87]“Urbs Ierusalem beata,/ dicta pacis vision,/ quae construitur in coelis,/ vivis ex lapidibus”. Rom. Brev., Comm. De Dedic. Eccl., Himnus ad Vesp.  

[88]M. LUTHER, To the Christian Aristocracy of the German Nation (1520): WA 6, 437.  

[89]POPE JOHN PAUL II, Apost. Let. Tertio Millennio Adveniente, 18. 

[90]II VAT. ECUM. COUNCIL, Message to Humanity (20-10-1962). 

[91]Cfr. POPE JOHN XXIII, Opening Speech to the II Vatican Council (11-10-1962); POPE PAUL VI, Opening Speech at the second session of the II Vatican Council (29-9-1963): AAS 55 (1963) p. 842.  

[92]POPE PAUL VI, Discourse at the Conclusion of the third session of the II Vatican Council (21-11-1964): AAS 56 (1964) p. 1013. 

[93]POPE PAUL VI, Speech at the Assembly of the United Nations (4-10-1965): AAS 57 (1965) p. 878 

[94]II VAT. ECUM. COUNCIL, Closing Messages of the Council (8-12-1965). 

[95]Cfr. POPE PAUL VI, Discourse at the Conclusion of the second session of the II Vatican Council (4-12-1963): AAS 56 (1964) p. 39.  

[96]II VAT. ECUM. COUNCIL, Dogm. Const. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 2. 

[97]Cfr. II VAT. ECUM. COUNCIL, Dogm. Const. Lumen Gentium, 7-9. 

[98]Cfr.ibid.,3; 13. 

[99]Cfr. ibid., 3. 

[100]Cfr. II VAT. ECUM. COUNCIL, Decr. Ad Gentes, 5. 

[101]Cfr.II VAT. ECUM. COUNCIL, Dogm. Const. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7; 10. 

[102]Cfr. Ex 12, 1-14. 

[103]Cfr. Jos 5, 10-12. 

[104]Cfr. II VAT. ECUM. COUNCIL, , Decr. Ad Gentes, 2; Dogm. Const. Lumen Gentium, 17. 

[105]Mt 28, 19. 

[106]Cfr. II VAT. ECUM. COUNCIL, Dogm. Const Dei Verbum, 7. 

[107]Cfr. II VAT. ECUM. COUNCIL, Past. Const. Gaudium et Spes, 38. 

[108]Cfr. ibid., 1-7. 

[109]Cfr. ibid., 3; 11. 

[110]Cfr. ibid., 43. 

[111]Cfr. ibid., 44. 

[112]Cfr. Apostolic Exhortation Nobis in animum of Pope Paul VI, 25-3-1974, on the increased needs of the Church in the Holy Land; Apostolic Letter Apostolorum limina of Pope Paul VI, 25-5-1974, for the proclamation of the Holy Year 1975; Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete in Domino of Pope Paul VI, 9-5-1975, on Christian joy of the Holy Year; Apostolic Letter Aperite portas Redemptori of Pope John Paul II, 6-1-1983, for the proclamation of the Jubilee of 1983; Apostolic Letter Redemptionis anno of Pope John Paul II, 20-4-1984, on Jerusalem, holy patrimony of all believers, at the conclusion of the Jubilee of 1983; Apostolic Letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente of Pope John Paul II, 10-11-1994.  

[113]POPE JOHN PAUL II, General Audience, 9-4-1997, referring to the pastoral trip in Sarajevo. 

[114]Cfr. Lv 25. 

[115]Ps 104, 13. 

[116]Ac 2, 44-45. 

[117]Dt 15, 4.7. 

[118]Lk 1, 68. 

[119]Cfr. S. AUGUSTINE, Confessions I, 1: CCL 27, 1; PL 32, 661; XIII, 38, 53: CCL 27, 272ff.; PL 32, 868. 

[120]Ps 85, 11. 

[121]Rm 10, 20; cfr. Is 65, 1. 

[122]Cfr. Is 2, 3. 

[123]Rv 21, 2. 

[124]“Somos un pueblo que camina / y juntos caminando queremos alcanzar / una ciudad que no se acaba / sin pena ni tristeza / ciudad de eternidad” (Latin-American song) 

[125]Cfr. Lv 25. 

[126]Cfr. Ex 27, 21; 29, 4.10- 

[127]Cfr. CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP, Orientations and suggestions for the celebration of the Marian Year (3 April 1987), Notitiae 23 (1987) pp. 342-396. 

[128]Cfr. POPE JOHN PAUL II, Discourse to a group of North American Bishops in visita ad limina (21 September 1993): AAS 86 (1994) p. 495. 

[129]Is 56,7. 

[130]POPE JOHN PAUL II, Discourse to the participants in the I World Congress of the Pastoral Care of Shrines and Pilgrimages (28 February 1992): Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XV,1 (1992) p. 490. 

[131]1 K 9, 3. 

[132]POPE JOHN PAUL II, Enc. Let. Dives in misericordia, 8. 

[133]Cfr. ibid., 9. 

[134]Cfr. II VAT. ECUM. COUNCIL, Dogm. Const. Lumen Gentium, 50. 

[135]Cfr. II VAT. ECUM. COUNCIL, Past.. Const. Gaudium et Spes, 19. 

[136]POPE JOHN PAUL II, Apost. Let. Tertio Millennio Adveniente, 6. 

[137]POPE PAUL VI, Apost. Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, 26. 

[138]Cfr. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 240. 

[139]POPE JOHN PAUL II, Letter for the VII Centennial of Loreto (15 august 1993): Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XVI,2 (1993) p. 533. 

[140]Ml 1, 11. 

[141]Is 2, 3. 

[142]Cfr. POPE JOHN PAUL II, Apost. Exhortation Catechesi tradendae,47. 

[143]Ps 119, 105. 

[144]Cfr. POPE JOHN PAUL II, Discourse to the French Diocesan Directors of Pilgrimages (17 October 1980): Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, II,2 (1980) p. 894-897. 

[145]Cfr. II VAT. ECUM. COUNCIL, Dogm. Const. Dei Verbum, 21. 

[146]Cfr.POPE PAUL VI, Apost. Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, 25. 

[147]Cfr. II VAT. ECUM. COUNCIL, Dogm. Const. Sacrosanctum Concilium, 102; Collectio Missarum de beata Maria Virgine, Introductio, 6. 

[148]The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 777. 

[149]Heb 13, 20. 

[150]Ps 23, 3. 

[151]Cfr. POPE JOHN PAUL II, Discourse to the French bishops on the occasion of the ad limina Visit (4 April 1992): AAS 85 (1993) p. 368. 

[152]II VAT. ECUM. COUNCIL, Decree Presbyterorum Ordinis, 6. 

[153]Cfr. POPE JOHN PAUL II, Apost. Exhortation Pastores dabo vobis (4 April 1992), 71-72: AAS 84 (1992) pp 782-787. 

[154]Cfr. POPE JOHN PAUL II,Apost. Exhortation Christifidelis laici, 18. 

[155]Cfr. ibid., 23. 

[156]Cfr. ibid., 34. 

[157]Cfr. ibid., 7. 

[158]Cfr. POPE JOHN PAUL II, Homily in the Basilica of Aparecida, Brazil (4 July 1980): Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, III, 2 (1980) p. 99. 

[159]Lk 15, 24. 

[160]POPE JOHN PAUL II, Encycl. Let. Dives in misericordia, 13. 

[161]Cfr. 1 K 19, 4-8. 

[162]Code of Canon Law, can. 1234 § 1. 

[163]Cfr. 1 Jn 4, 10. 

[164]1 Jn 4, 11. 

[165]Mt 25, 40. 

[166]Cfr. POPE PAUL VI, Apost. Exhortation Gaudete in Domino, c.V.  

[167]Cfr. POPE JOHN PAUL II, Encyc. Let. Redemptoris Missio, 37. 

[168]Cfr. 1 Tm 2, 5. 

[169]Ac 17,27. 

[170]Ps 148, 11-13. 

[171]Is 21, 12. 

[172]1 K 19, 12. 

[173]Ps 84, 6. 

[174]Cfr. Ps 123, 2. 

[175]Cfr. Ps 19, 2. 

[176]Cfr. Ws 9, 3. 

[177]Code of Canon Law, can. 1234 § 2. 

[178]Cfr. Ps 47, 7.  

[179]Ws 13, 5; cfr. Rm 1, 19-20. 

[180]Cfr. POPE PAUL VI, Apost. Exhortation Marialis cultus, 37. 

[181]POPE JOHN PAUL II, Encycl. Let. Redemptoris Mater, 25. 

[182]POPE PAUL VI, Apost. Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, 82. 

[183]Lk 1, 35. 

[184]Cfr. Lk 1, 39-56. 

[185]POPE JOHN PAUL II, Encycl. Let. Redemptoris Mater, 37. 

[186]Cfr. Jn 19, 26-27. 

[187]Cfr. Ac 1, 14; 2, 1-4. 

[188]Cfr. POPE PAUL VI, Apost. Exhortation Marialis cultus, 25. 

[189]Cfr. II Vat. Ecum. Council. Dogm. Const. Lumen Gentium, 67. 

[190]Anonymous Russian, A Pilgrim’s Way, I. 

[191]1 Th 4, 17. 

[192]Lk 22, 27. 

[193]Cfr. Rv 3, 20.