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 Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

People on the Move

N° 104, August 2007



Consultation on Shrines

and Pilgrimages at NBCLC - India 


NBCLC created yet another opportunity for the scholars and brought some Rectors and Representatives of Papal, International, National and Local shrines to the same platform. This three-day consultation from March 12-14, 2007 was very much appreciated since many topics of contemporary importance and relevance were dealt with in a congenial atmosphere. The nature and purpose and the ways of revitalizing the devotions of popular piety were analysed. H. Eminence Renato  Raffaele Cardinal Martino, President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, presided over the first day Liturgy and gave the key note address, H.E. Thelespore Cardinal Toppo the President of the CBCI also was present and presided the Liturgy on the second day and addressed the participants. The Celebrants were received by Indian traditional dance and arati. There were the Rectors of   Fatima, Padova and Lourdes who spoke on the need of innovation in pastoral strategy in pilgrim centers.   Fr. Thomas D’Sa the director of NBCLC invited all the participants and declared the Consultation open by inviting the dignitaries to light the lamp. Archbishop Bernard Moras said the opening prayers.  Fr. Kulandaisamy Rayar (R.K.Samy), the coordinator of this International Consultation, gave the dynamics of the consultation.  Bp. Thomas A.Vazhapilly moderated the first session. Bp. Yvon Ambrose president of the Commission for Peace and Justice of CBCI presided and gave the insightful homily on the final day.  “Marian Sacramentary” and “Marian Lectionary” along with the “Directory on Popular Piety” and the Document on “Shrine and Pilgrimages” were released. Cardinal Martino and Shrine Rectors from other countries visited and prayed in some of the shrines in Bangalore and were accorded a reception at the Archbishop’s house on the 13th evening at Bangalore.

 In his keynote address Cardinal Martino spoke forcefully on the need to make the shrines as real opportunity for simple people to encounter God. His visit to the Basilica of in Bangalore gave him a first hand experience of how the Indian consider priests like him as holy men from God.   Group discussion and General sessions were occasion for every one to speak and they came out with many suggestions.

Fr. Jacob Parapally gave the salient features in all the papers of research.

Though Pilgrimages and Shrines are in all the religions, Christian pilgrimages are based on the places of theophany and were the rallying point for the different tribes to experience themselves as one community.  Jesus also insisted on the unique mission of the center of pilgrimage for communicating the values of the Kingdom. Far from being centers for mere private satisfaction they are centers of social transformation and faith formation. It was a gradual development to go on pilgrimage to the places associated with the life of Jesus.

All sections like including the subalterns manifest and experience a sense of transcendence. Therefore Shrines must help for the constant transformation, renewal and rejuvenation and are expressions of inward movement. Though many such centers are on Mary and Saints, even innocent people understand intuitively the centrality of Christ and the roles of the blessed. The interest of shrines to serve the simple for whom we have the pastoral responsibility were very clear when two Cardinals, 8 bishops and 90 scholars and Shrine Rectors gathered for these intensive sessions. The Papers will be published in May 2007 and will be available at On the whole it was a merging of theological insights and pastoral experience. It is not only an affirmation of both theological and ecclesial recognition on the presence of shrines and pilgrimages but a clear resolution of commitment to make them as centers of proclamation and worship along with fostering the secondary functions of making them schools of culture and art forms.

It was a joint endeavour of NBCLC, which is the Center of the Catholic Bishops of India and the Marian Academy of India. 


Fr. R.K. Samy

Assistant Director

National Biblical Catechetical & Liturgical Center

Catholic Bishops Conference India