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Rome Reports

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Seven Church pilgrimage: a 15 mile walk lasting for almost 500 years in the Eternal City

The “Seven Church Pilgrimage,” is a 15-mile route to the four great basilicas of Rome. These are St. Peter's Basilica, St. John Lateran, St. Paul Outside the Walls and St. Mary Major. It also stops at three other churches Holy Cross, St. Lawrence and St. Sebastian. These are the seven most important churches in the Eternal City.

Fr. Simone Raponi, from the Oratory of St. Philip Neri, says St. Philip Neri began promoting this pilgrimage as an alternative to carnival parties.

Oratory of St. Philip Neri
"St. Philip Neri brought this pilgrimage back to the scene during the mid-16th century. Soon after, it became famous. He reinstated its penitential nature, its devotion to the Holy Spirit, and encouraged the importance of the sacrament of reconciliation. Moreover, St. Philip Neri knew how to present it with a touch of joy and humor, transforming this religious excursion into a 'festive journey of pilgrimage.'”

This map shows the route traced by St. Philip, who started it himself. Each year, more pilgrims joined, reaching 6,000 participants during Pius IV's pontificate.

Oratory of St. Philip Neri
“People from all classes and walks of life: the rich, the poor, cardinals and princes all participated in the seven church pilgrimage.”

Since 1575, those who do the “Seven Church Pilgrimage” can gain a plenary indulgence under the necessary conditions. Fr. Simone and other priests of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri organize a nocturnal pilgrimage every year around May 26, the saint's feast day.

Oratory of St. Philip Neri
“The Oratory priests accompany the pilgrims during this visit to the seven churches. We are in charge of catechesis, formation and meditations on the Christian virtues and life.”

The pilgrimage takes place at night to avoid the hustle and bustle of Rome during the day. The aim of this nocturnal pilgrimage is to provide a more powerful and solemn atmosphere. This year around 850 people attended this event.