During the weekly General Audience on Wednesday, 6 September, Pope Francis welcomed a delegation of 400 Senegalese Catholic faithful to Saint Peter Square, taking part in a pilgrimage to various holy places of Catholic Christianity.
Jacques Ngol, SJ – Vatican City.
The pilgrimage is a golden opportunity for the faithful to consolidate their faith. Speaking to Vatican Radio, Bishop Paul Abel Mamba Diatta of the Diocese of Tambacounda and national coordinator explained the reasons behind the pilgrimage.
The 2023 edition of the national pilgrimage
Organised under the banner of “Communion,” the 2023 edition of the national pilgrimage to holy places of Catholic Christianity has so far been to the Holy Land and Rome in Italy.
The term Holy Land generally refers to a territory that today more or less corresponds to the modern State of Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Besides leading an inter-diocesan organising team, Bishop Mamba is also the Spiritual Director of pilgrims.
Three stages of the pilgrimage: Jesus, Peter and Mary
This is “an annual pilgrimage that takes in three stages,” explained Bishop Mamba. “In the Holy Land, where the pilgrims spent five days around Jerusalem and five days around Nazareth, the emphasis was on the person of Christ.” The aim is to enable pilgrims to discover more about Jesus Christ and, in connection with the Holy Scriptures, to meditate at each celebration and let pilgrims feet in the footsteps of Christ.
“The second stage of the pilgrimage takes place in Rome, where the universal Church is experienced so that they can learn more about the Church, which has Pope Francis at its head. All this,” he continued, “so that pilgrims can understand that they belong to a great universal community whose diverse members are also in Senegal,” said the Bishop.
The third stage will “take into account the Marian dimension of our Catholic faith by going to Lourdes, where we will recall and honour the place of the Virgin Mary in the circle of Christ’s disciples,” explained Bishop Mamba.
Emphasis is on prayer
According to the Senegalese Bishops, the national pilgrimage is an opportunity the Church of Senegal offers to its faithful, enabling them to live out their Catholic faith. During the pilgrimage, the emphasis is on personal prayer and the unity of local communities as well as the universal community, which is the universal Church.
The national pilgrimage also promotes the Christian faith and commitment to the Church by the Catholic faithful who make the trip.