June 26, 2011. (Romereports.com)
The Roman organization in charge of pilgrimages is now passing out ipods. They're equipped with an audio-guide for visitor's to Rome's Basilica of St. John Lateran.
The church is one of Rome's four major basilicas and the first one built inside the ancient walls of Rome.
Father Caesar Atuire is the head of the pilgrim agency and he says St. John Lateran was chosen to test these ipods because of it's historical importance in the Church.
Fr. Caesar Atuire
CEO, Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi“San Giovanni is the most important church in the Roman Catholic world. I mean it's the first basilica and what's more, it's the pope's cathedral. And if the pope, I mean he's pope because he's bishop of Rome, then this is the major basilica of the whole Roman Catholic Church and I think this is a good place to start.”
The ipod audio-guide takes visitors on a step by step tour through the basilica giving details on it's statues and frescoes.
Inside the church, the Altar of the Holy Sacrament contains a table that is said to be the one used by Christ during the Last Supper.
One can even listen to narrated stories from different events related to the St. John Lateran. One story is told from the point of view of Constantine, the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity.
The ipod's touch screen format proved to be popular not only with young visitors but also with older ones. Fr. Caesar Atuire
CEO, Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi “We do not need to create a generational divide between old people and young people, and we need to encourage the older people to get used to this modern technology. Otherwise they will feel cut off from a part of the world.”
The audio-guides are provided free of charge and are available in five languages.
The ipod tour is a first for Vatican Basilicas but the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi already has plans of extending the idea to other churches. It's a way to get a first hand tour while maintaining a respectful silence in the church.