The Holy See unveiled a new event entitled “The Children’s Train: A Journey Through Beauty” which will take place next Sunday. The event is part of the Court of the Gentiles, an initiative which aims to create a respectful dialogue between believers and non-believers.
Begun by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, the Court of the Gentiles derives its name from the courtyard area of the Jewish temple where Jews and non-Jews could socialize and dialogue centuries ago.
The initiative is led by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, who was present at the press conference. Also present was Mauro Moretti, an engineer and administrative delegate for the Railway Office of Italy, Dr. Patrizia Martinez, the organizer and coordinator of the Children’s Train event, and Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office.
The upcoming event is part of a section of the Court of the Gentiles, known as the Court of the Children which is dedicated to the transmitting universal values through education and formation. The Children’s Train will have 450 children travel on a special train, made available by the Railway Office, beginning in Milan and making two stops in Bologna and Florence. The highlight of the trip will be a final stop at the Vatican Train Station where they will be received by the Holy Father.
The Children’s Train event will also aim to promote the direct experience of artistic creation by making stops at the Cathedral of their respective cities. The goal is to educate them on the beauty and strength of cooperation for the greater good.
During the press conference, Cardinal Ravasi stated that the Children’s Train “constitutes a symbolic component for children.” It gives them, he continued, “not only a visual experience but also a spiritual journey. The president of the Pontifical Council for Culture went on to say that by giving them the opportunity to visit the cathedrals, children will have a greater appreciation and understanding for the construction of the religious edifices in their cities.
Dr. Patrizia Martinez gave details on the day’s events which includes a stop at Bambino Gesu Children’s Hospital in Rome. The stop at the hospital will give those children who cannot participate in the Children’s Train an opportunity to be a part of the event, Martinez said. “[The Children’s Train] will give light and joy to kids who always have a curiosity for music, history, and culture,” Martinez said.