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Thousands of French altar servers go on pilgrimage to Rome

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POPE FRANCIS

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

I.Media for Aleteia - published on 08/19/22

The young participants will have a chance to meet the pope during a special audience and attend Mass at St. John Lateran Basilica.

“Come, serve and go” is the theme of the national pilgrimage of French altar servers to Rome from August 22 to 26, 2022. More than 2,500 participants will crisscross the Eternal City and experience spiritual highlights, including a meeting with Pope Francis on Friday, August 26.

Postponed twice because of COVID-19, the

pilgrimage of altar servers to Rome
will take place this year. “We were struck by the interest of young people in this pilgrimage,” says Bernadette Mélois, who works in the office for liturgical and sacramental ministry of the French Bishops’ Conference, which initiated the event. And the numbers are indeed impressive: next Monday, 2,500 young pilgrims between the ages of 10 and 18 will arrive in Rome accompanied by nearly 150 priests, including about 20 bishops. In all, 51 dioceses of France will be represented.

These young people, boys and girls, are involved in their parishes. “These large gatherings allow them to get together, as they usually share the same service on Sundays,” explains Bernadette Mélois.

A welcome message from the pope

Six years after a pilgrimage to Lourdes and 10 years after the one to Rome, the young people will this time be received by Pope Francis, who

has personally invited them to come in a video
where, exceptionally,
we hear him speak in French
.

“I am happy to address you, who serve the altar in your parish, to invite you to participate in the great pilgrimage of altar servers, organized by the Church of France in Rome,” Pope Francis said. “You will visit the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul, who were also sent on mission by Jesus and who gave their lives for him. Their courageous witness will be an encouragement for you to persevere in your commitment and in your Christian life,” he insists, giving them a date of Friday, August 26.

On the last day of their journey, the young people will be welcomed by the pope in the Paul VI Hall of the Vatican. During the audience with the Holy Father, there will be a time of exchange and a speech by the Pope.

Other events

On Wednesday, among other activities, the young people will participate in a “great rally game” in the city of Rome based on the sacraments of Christian initiation. The day before, they will go to the Basilica of St. John Lateran where a Mass will be celebrated, as is the daily custom of this pilgrimage.

Every day, a video diary will be produced and posted on the organization’s YouTube channel. Participants have been encouraged to invite their friends to subscribe to this channel to share what they are about to experience in Rome.

In 2012, some 2,600 young people and their chaperones participated in the National Altar Servers Pilgrimage to Rome. During their stay, they were received for an audience with Pope Benedict XVI at Castelgandolfo.

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