June 17, 2012. (Romereports.com)
Every year thousands of pilgrims get their backpacks ready and head out on a mission of roughly 1,100 miles. It's all part of a pilgrimage route named 'Via Francigena.' It goes through England, France, Switzerland and Italy
until arriving to the heart of Christianity. The tomb of St. Peter.
Rome's Basilica of San Giovanni Battista dei Fiorentini, opened its doors as a meeting point, to accommodate some of those pilgrims, before they make it to the Vatican.
MSGR. LUIGI VETURI
Basilica San Giovanni Battista dei Fiorentini (Rome)
“We're hoping this church can be a place where pilgrims can rest, take time and recover their energy. Logistically, it's the right thing to do and it also shows a great sign of hospitality.”
The so called welcoming center is on the side door of the Basilica, in a room called Fiorentini. In fact, that room was actually the oratory of St. Philip Neri, who was the first pastor of this church. Now years later, some of the saint's famous sayings are on walls of the room.
Aside from taking a break, pilgrims can also request a certificate that shows they've taken part in at least 62 miles of the 'Via Francigena' route.
A group of pilgrims attended this presentation ceremony, after covering about 23 miles of the journey.
“It is a spiritual path, but one can also take part as a way to exercise and walk outdoors. The route is simple and there are several stations set up to pray along the way.”
Each pilgrim can decide how much of a distance they want to travel. Some even go on to a second stage. After arriving in St. Peter's, they decide to go on to Jerusalem. In Italy, one of the most popular routes is of course the Via Francigena. It runs for 155 miles, all the way from Assisi to the Eternal City of Rome.