Compostela Pilgrimage to Celebrate 10 Countries' Entry to EU

Initiative of Commission of Bishops’ Conferences

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BRUSSELS, Belgium, MAY 9, 2003 ( As a reminder of the spiritual dimension of the unification of Europe, a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela will celebrate the entry of 10 new states in the European Union.

On Friday, May 9, Europe Day, the members of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) and the archbishop of Santiago de Compostela will launch “Santiago 2004,” a pilgrimage to the city in Spain to mark the unification of Europe.

The pilgrimage will begin next April 17 at the Benedictine monastery of Santo Domingo de Silos and will be joined by over 300 pilgrims nominated by the Catholic bishops’ conferences of the present and future European Union, as well as politicians, journalists, writers and artists. It will conclude in Santiago on April 21.

The initiative is being supported by the heads of the three main EU institutions: Pat Cox, president of the European Parliament; Romano Prodi, president of the European Commission; and Bertie Ahern, the Irish Prime Minister who will hold the rotating presidency of the European Council in the first half of 2004.

The pilgrimage will mark a historic moment for the unification of Europe with the accession to the European Union of 10 new member states from Central, Eastern, and Southern Europe on May 1, 2004.

2004 is also a Holy Year for the shrine of Santiago de Compostela.

The pilgrimage will be followed on April 21-24 by a theological congress on the significance of European integration for the Christian faith, and a plenary meeting of COMECE at which the bishops’ conferences of the new EU member states will become full members.

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