VATICAN CITY: 3 June – The group of 29 Sisters, two Sister animators and myself set off for a dawn mass in the crypt of the Popes under St Peter’s Basilica. It contains architectural fragments from earlier churches on the site and the tombs of many popes, including the simple tomb of John Paul II. But the focus of pilgrims and tourists alike is the tomb of the very first pope: St. Peter. A glass wall at the end of the crypt provides a view of the reliquary below the altar, which may well contain the actual bones of St. Peter. A chapel stretches out behind the shrine into the crypt for services at this holiest of shrines.
After a short and faith filled Mass in the Armenian chapel marking the death anniversary of pope John XXIII and recalling Ugandan martyrs, the Sisters renewed their faith, recommending to the Lord, faithful of their respective countries who struggle to practice the faith.
From dawn, each day, the crypt chapels are a bee hive of activities, with different groups making their way for their reserved Mass time slot and respective chapels. After Mass, the Sisters had ample time to see the Basilica.
After a brief shopping for religious articles, the group went to St Paul’s basilica, the catacombs of St. Callistus, Quo Vadis church and the basilica of Sacra Cuore which Don Bosco built near Termini bus and railway station. In the evening they will meet with the Mother Yvonne and the Sisters of her Council.
Vatican Radio Interviews
After the Mass, I went over to Vatican Radio, India Programme section headed by Fr Alfie Ben SJ. They have four language services to India, namely English, Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam.
Mr. Robin Gomes, a Salesian College Sonada (Darjeeling) past pupil from Kolkata who works with Vatican Radio for over 20 years now, took the chance to interview me for two programmes.
First one was on the 25th International Catholic Film Festival of Niepokalanow (Warsaw, Poland) which concluded on 30th May and the “Multimedia at the Service of the Gospel” award I received at the festival inauguration, 27 May from Catholic Film Association of Poland.
The second interview was on my thoughts on the Year for Priests, to be concluded shortly.
Language programme producers are only too glad to interview visiting missionaries, to get first hand news and experiences of living and sharing the Gospel in various cultures… they insisted that next time the group should make themselves available for short interviews in as many languages as possible. The ideal time, they say, would be Wednesday morning, 9 am, after a brief interview, they could go over to the Piazza San Pietro for the papal audience.
Why this Project Mornese?
“We are talking of a pilgrimage to the source of our charism, as lived experience and coming into contact with source of the spiritual journey of Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello. At every stage we visit the places, reflect and celebrate every experience in prayer,” says the project coordinator Spanish Sr. Monica Menegusi at their Rome Generalate explaining the pilgrim stages.
The first stage of the pilgrimage (June 1-5) is Rome “In the heart of the Church and Institute, Rome,” where everyone enters as pilgrims in the faith.
The second and third stages will take the pilgrims to the itinerary of their co-founders Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello respectively. The group will visit places connected with Don Bosco’s apostolate in Turin area and move to “Mornese, the home town of Mary Mazzarello’s ministry.
Friday, 4th June, the group leaves for a day-trip to Assisi.