Largest ever pilgrimage of Russian Catholics to Rome
(May 15,2006) The largest ever pilgrimage to Rome in the history of Russian Catholics
started on May 15. Some 150 believers arrived from Moscow on Monday to round off
the year dedicated to the commemoration of late Pope John Paul II. One of the pilgrims
is Archbishop Thaddeus Kondrusiewicz of the Church of the Mother of God in Moscow.
For most of the pilgrims, this is their first visit to Rome, and all have expressed
a strong desire to see Pope Benedict XVI. They say “Praying together with him is
the dream of a lifetime.” The Russian pilgrims will present the pontiff an antique
Russian icon from the XVIII century and a hand-made liturgical ornate. On May 16
they participated in a mass in the crypt of the Basilica of St Peter. On 17 May,
they plan to attend Wednesday’s general audience of Pope Benedict . The communities
of the archdiocese of the Mother of God have gathered many signatures on a ribbon
with the colours of the Russian flag (white, blue and red), as a mark of their respect
for the Pope. Another initiative is the collection of testimonies from across the
country for the beatification of Pope John Paul II. The idea came from Mgr Angelo
Comastri, archpriest of St Peter’s Basilica. He said the notes would be turned over
to the postulator of the beatification cause of John Paul II, Mons. Slawomir Oder.
"Although the notes may not include information about alleged miracles attributed
to the deceased Pontiff", Mons. Oder said " they are anyhow an important testimony
about the late Pope’s life of holiness."