Pilgrims finally return to the Holy Land

After a year and a half without a pilgrimage due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Patriarch of Jerusalem welcomed a group of tour guides, priests and journalists.

The Patriarch of Jerusalem, Bishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, welcomed the first group of pilgrims to the Holy Land since the COVID-19 containment was put in place a year and a half ago.

“The return of the pilgrims means for Jerusalem to breathe again with two lungs,” Bishop Pizzaballa said in a statement. interview with Vatican Radio.

“History is part of our faith”

The pilgrimage, which took place in the first week of July, was led by the Roman Pilgrimage Organization of the Holy See (Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi) and included a group of tour guides, priests and journalists.

Among the pilgrims was Cardinal Enrico Feroci, who is pastor of the parish of Santa Maria del Divino Amore in Rome.

After visiting the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher, Cardinal Feroci spoke of the experience of visiting the sacred places of the Holy Land.

This place is always a place that speaks for itself, several times I knelt there and I put my head on this stone which received the body of Christ. Saint Paul said that if Christ had not risen from the dead, our faith would be in vain. It is therefore a fundamental and central point of our experience. It therefore seems to me to be a moment of hope and also of interior joy in thanksgiving for what the Lord has done for us ”, he declared.

Bro. Filippo Morlacchi from the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem was among those who welcomed the group.

“The most beautiful thing is to think that these places are not preserved as historical memory of stones and memories, which are still important because history is part of our faith. But beyond these stones, beyond these places, beyond these sanctuaries, there are communities that guard these sanctuaries, who live in these places, who pray in these places, ”he said. said.

“Then we only hope that it will be an opportunity not only for many tourists to visit this land but for many faithful who, drawing on the roots of their faith, can find reasons to live it more deeply by returning to their country of origin», Declared Fr. Morlacchi.

The first pilgrimage since confinement

In addition to visiting the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher and the Upper Room, among other holy sites in Jerusalem, the group visited the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem and celebrated Holy Mass at the Church of Nutrition in Nazareth. . Also known as Saint Joseph’s Church, this small church was built on what tradition tells us to be Joseph’s workshop.

Reopening to tourists and the faithful

Small groups of tourists are now allowed to visit Israel. The country’s tourism ministry recently announced that it will open the country to individual foreign tourists on August 1. The opening date was originally July 1, but an increase in coronavirus infections prompted the date to be pushed forward by a month.


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Douglas Mackenzie

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