19 July 2018

The pilgrimage: an experience that goes back to the origins of the biblical man

The Holy Land Pilgrimage, where the Old and New Testaments intertwine with stories told through manuscripts, sanctuaries, museums and living stones.

Pilgrims

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A place rich in natural beauty... sea, lakes, mountains, deserts and above all an ancient history which attracts a multitude of peoples

A place where Old and New Testaments intertwine with their stories told through manuscripts, sanctuaries, museums and living stones which preserve memory.

All of this is the Holy Land. As confirmed by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, about 2 million people visited these places in the first half of 2018. And the place par excellence is Jerusalem, Holy City for the three monotheistic religions and pilgrimages destination.

Br DOMINIQUE JOLY, ofm
Director of Franciscan pilgrimages - France
For us the pilgrimage par excellence is here in Jerusalem: here is where the Tomb of Christ is and here is where He resurrected. Being here means being able to visit the places where He walked, healed the sick, spoke...

The published data do not show the age groups of tourists and pilgrims, but walking through the city you can meet people of all kinds, from the youngest to the oldest.
 
Portuguese Pilgrim
This is the fourth time I've come here. The first one was in 1987, the second one in 2000, the third one in 2008 and this is the fourth one. Every time I live a new and richer experience.
 
I am happy to be here despite my advanced age - I am almost eighty-eight - I am living my second youth. Every time I come back I find something new that shakes my heart and makes me try to be even more faithful to my Christian, priestly and Franciscan vocation.
 
Some groups take only a few hours to fly to the Holy Land, while for others the journey is longer... to reach the Asian continent.
 
The pilgrimage to the land of Israel is an experience which goes back to the origins of the biblical man and it's also in the very experience of Abraham.
 
Br FRANCESCO PATTON, ofm
Custos of the Holy Land
Pilgrims have been here since ancient times. The diary of the Spanish pilgrim Egeria, who came to the Holy Land in the sixth century, is still quite famous, as well as the diaries of medieval pilgrims and other witnesses. Later on, I would say especially from the fifteenth century, there were more written texts and records, which are very interesting to understand how this land has been sought by Christian generations over the centuries as a land of pilgrimage. 

Br FRANCESCO PATTON, ofm
Custos of the Holy Land
The pilgrim sets out on his way because he trusts God; when he leaves he doesn't know what God will make him discover, what are the surprises that God has in store for him, but he still sets out on his way with confidence. He doesn't even worry too much about finding comfortable, convenient places, about not having inconveniences, none of this. Instead, he goes with this dimension of trust. Because pilgrimage expresses above all the dimension of faith.

The Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem is an important destination for pilgrims from all over the world. Many of them participate, on Fridays, to the traditional Way of the Cross presided over by the Franciscans. But you can listen to prayers and songs at any time in many languages.

In the basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, masses can be celebrated in about twenty languages. Celebrations with the groups begin at 5 am: an average of 25/30 masses a day distributed among the Calvary, the Tomb and other chapels.

Br SINISA SREBRENOVIC, ofm

Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher
If we look at the last years, there is a growth of groups, a growth of pilgrims and another phenomenon is the growth of tourists, who do not celebrate but visit the Basilica.

There is also a growing presence of Muslims, who visit the Holy Sepulchere mainly during Ramadan.
 
Different cultures, different peoples come together in an experience of faith that undoubtedly marks their lives but also those of those who live in this land
 
Br FRANCESCO PATTON, ofm
Custos of the Holy Land
The pilgrimage is also important for the Christians who live here, because when the pilgrims arrive, the Christians who live here feel connected with the Christians from the rest of the world. For communities that are clearly a religious minority this is a positive encouragement.