Church of the Holy Sepulcher 311.
(photo credit: Travelujah)
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The National Association of the Diocesan Directors of French Pilgrimages
recently held its 64th congress – for the first time in Jerusalem – to discuss
Christian pilgrimage, particularly to the Holy Land.
Over the course of
four days last week, the 150 delegates convened at Notre Dame Center and
discussed the geography and history of the country and how to better organize
pilgrimages and prepare pilgrims so when they arrive at their destination, they
may have a greater awareness of their experience.
The days each had
themes which focused on an area of importance, including the “living stones” of
the local church body, Christians who live in the Holy Land.
(congress being held in Jerusalem) is an expression of our solidarity with our
Christian brothers and sisters of the Holy Land,” Father Patrick Gandoul,
president of the Association, said in his speech at the opening of the
The purpose of the congress, he said, was to learn how,
during pilgrimage to the Holy Land, to draw from “the pages of the Bible, from
archaeology and from meeting men and women that today ... make up the living
stones of the church. We will encourage the directors of pilgrimages to
understand and perceive how the people live and how pilgrims also can walk on
“We need to present ourselves, not as professionals or
performers, but as pastors and guides, in solidarity with the mother church,
which supports the Christian presence in this land and in the holy places so
that these places, where the history of peace was born, will never become merely
an open air museum.”
Each afternoon was devoted to “field experiences”
including a solemn entrance at the Holy Sepulcher with the Custos of the Holy
Land and a trip to Bethlehem to meet with Christians there.
1938, the association considers pilgrimage a pastoral and cultural experience
and values its importance. France ranks fourth in the number of pilgrims to the
Holy Land. Jerusalem was chosen as the host for this annual event to bring the
land of pilgrimage to life.
“We come as pilgrims and we need to
understand better this land and, as Christians, our link to the land,” said
Father Jacques Nieuviarts. “We come (also) to learn from the church in
Gandoul said that pilgrims should also view themselves as
carriers of peace when they step foot in other lands to visit the holy
“The pilgrim is a being of peace who walks humbly in the steps of
his Father. Like it was written by the prophet Micah eight centuries, the
pilgrim seeks the face of God,” he said. “I think that we can really be peace
makers. Each person can build up this land living in peace and looking forward
to a serene and harmonious future.”Travelujah.com is a Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land.
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