VATICAN CITY, JUL 27, 2004 (VIS) - Archbishop Francesco Gioia, president of "Peregrinatio ad Petri Sedem," an organization created 70 years ago by the Holy See to assist pilgrims coming to the See of Peter, has just published a book entitled "Mendicanti del Cielo nel turismo, nei pellegrinaggi, nei santuari" (Mendicants from Heaven, in Tourism, Pilgrimages and Shrines).
The archbishop studies the complex phenomenon of human mobility from a religious and sociological point of view. He looks at man as "a pilgrim in time and space," tourism as "a vehicle of evangelization," and a pilgrimage as "an itinerary of hope." In conclusion, he writes of shrines, terming man "the shrine of God," and saying that shrines are a "stage on the path of salvation" and "places of interior miracles."
A press release from Peregrinatio ad Petri Sedem (Pilgrimage to the See of Peter) announcing the archbishop's book, also announced the publication by this office of a small volume in French and Italian entitled "The Four Basilicas: Obligatory Stages for the Pilgrims." These booklets, which will soon be published in English and German, look at Rome's patriarchal basilicas of St. Peter, St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major and St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls and present a historical perspective, a spiritual message and a practical guide on opening hours, telephone numbers, etc.
The precursor of the peregrinatio was an office founded by Pope Pius IX at the end of the Extraordinary Holy Year of the Redemption 1933-1934 when he changed the Central Committee into a permanent organization to assist pilgrims coming to Rome, to the See of Peter. Pope Paul VI gave this office juridical status in 1972, and reorganized it two years after the 1975 Holy Year. The Statutes which now govern the peregrinatio came into force on January 16, 2002.
Directly answerable to the Secretariat of State, this office assists pilgrims - individuals, families or large groups - who come to Rome by coordinating travel and lodging plans, assisting in organizing liturgical celebrations, planning congresses and meetings and, in particular, planning and promoting all ecclesial activities. It does this by maintaining contacts with episcopal conferences, dioceses and national and diocesan groups or committees.
The peregrinatio, with the Secretariat of State, organizes the travel of the apostolic trips made by the Holy Father and his entourage. It is governed by a Board of Directors, Pastoral Council and College of Auditors, and the president is directly appointed by the Holy Father.
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