When Pope Francis first stepped onto the balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square in Rome, Mark Shriver like millions of other people around the world was captivated by this man who humbly bowed his head after asking the people there to pray for him, before he would offer his first blessing to them.
The idea of a pilgrimage during the Year of Mercy took Benedictine Sister Lisa Kittock by storm.
The destination is especially appropriate, given the Holy Year of Mercy, said WINE founder Kelly Wahlquist; pilgrims will walk through the Holy Doors at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
For the first time in Church history, cathedrals around the world will open, on the same day, holy doors to usher in a holy year, and the Cathedral of St. Paul is no exception.
Pat Shannon counted the steps. Nine that time, he said. It was a big move for the pilgrims who had been standing in a massive crowd on a Philadelphia side street waiting to go through security to join Pope Francis’ Mass on Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
“To be in his presence is so exciting,” said Jean Stolpestad, her eyes filling with tears. “I get to be with my spiritual father, and it’s something I’ve always wanted to experience.”
Bishop Andrew Cozzens, auxiliary bishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, had dinner with pilgrims from the archdiocese Sept. 25 who attended the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia and were preparing for Pope Francis’ Sept. 26 arrival into the city for the Festival of Families on Saturday and the World Meeting of Families’ closing Mass Sunday.
The group arrived shortly after noon in Philadelphia, four hours before Pope Francis was scheduled to touch down on U.S. soil for the first time near Washington, D.C., following his visit to Cuba.
Pilgrims from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis expect to see the pope on Saturday and Sunday; in the meanwhile, they’ll be attending lectures, workshops and expert panels at the World Meeting of Families.
A special men-only pilgrimage is an opportunity to strengthen the faith to live as a Catholic man.