2016-09-09 10:14:00

Jubilee of Mercy: 15 million pilgrims in Rome 'wonderfully surprising’

(Vatican Radio)  More than 15 million pilgrims have crossed the threshold of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica during the first nine months of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

Those numbers were released on Wednesday by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization.

Fr. Eugene Sylva of the Pontifical Council spoke to Vatican Radio’s Alessandro Gisotti about the experience of millions of pilgrims in the Year of Mercy.

Listen to the full interview:

Commenting on the influx of pilgrims into Rome, Fr. Sylva said their number in the months of July and August 'was wonderfully surprising', since most tourists avoid the city during the scorching heat of summer. 

"This is just proof of how mercy is touching the hearts of so many around the world and inspiring people to come and go through the Holy Door to receive the grace of this incredible time and to be in the presence of Pope Francis, which is so important as well."

Reminder that Church's mission is mercy

Fr. Sylva also noted how Pope Francis has reminded the Church that its mission is mercy during the Jubilee Year.

"The Holy Father is inspiring the Church to remember that it's mercy that is its mission. It's what we are founded on; it's what we in our own small way, even if I'm confined to a hospital room or a nursing home, can be merciful, and I can share that mercy."

Pope Francis has provided an excellent example through his practice of the Fridays of Mercy.

Fr. Sylva said, "The Holy Father wants to keep those [Friday of Mercy events] private so that he can have a real personal experience with a small group of people, but afterwards for us to allow people to see what he's done so that others can follow, because the corporal and spiritual works of mercy are so important to this Jubilee."

Three months left

With less than three months to go before the close of the Jubilee of Mercy, it is time to begin to gather the fruits of this year of grace.

Fr. Sylva said Pope Francis "really reminded everyone in the world of the call to be a people of mercy towards one another and to encounter people in such a way so that they know, when they meet us, that their lives have value and meaning."

He said the Jubilee has also given a new impetus for the spread of the new evangelization.

"This Jubilee is propelling us along in the new evangelization. It's helping us see the pastoral plan of where to go next and to tie this whole dialectic of love and faith - and faith and love - which is so essential to Pope Francis into how we concretely implement that plan for the new evangelization."

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