Muleteer Pilgrimage Going to See the Pope

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CASTEL GONDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 20, 2009 ( Benedict XVI is preparing to welcome some 200 pilgrims who have been traveling the 140 miles from Assisi to Rome since Aug. 10.

The pilgrimage, which includes carts pulled by donkeys and mules, will be received by the Pope at his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, some 18 miles from Rome.

These pilgrims, from Association of the Friends of the Road to Santiago, come from Salamanca, Spain, and other European countries.

One of the members of the group, Juan Carlos López Pinto, told ZENIT that one of their objectives is to highlight «the importance of Europe’s roads in the making of Western culture.»

The pilgrimage has also consisted in a series of workshops, facilitated by the donkey carts.

Each cart carries an exposition of a different theme: St. James the Apostle, St. Peter, St. Paul, the Blessed Virgin, children, music, culture, the environment, solidarity and trade.

In this way, the group is promoting a more profound reflection on the cultural, environmental, monumental and religious aspects of the «Road of St. Francis» (Francigeno) between Assisi and Rome.

As they pass through Italian villages and cities, the pilgrims are dressed in garments that recall ancient muleteers and traditional occupations.

The group also includes a number of children, as young as age 2.

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