Pope Francis made a phone call to the participants in the 39th pilgrimage on foot from Macerata to Loreto, in the Marche region of Italy, between the night of June 10-11, 2017.
The Pontiff requested the very numerous – especially young people – pilgrims to reflect on the theme of the 39th edition of the nocturnal pilgrimage: “Do You Love Me?” a question or phrase with “a double meaning,” he observed.
As every year since 1978, tens of thousands of pilgrims from Italy but also from abroad walk the almost 30 kilometers that separate the “Helvia Recina” Stadium – the traditional point of departure in Macerata – from the Shrine of the Holy House of Loreto in the Marche.
“I wish you a good pilgrimage!”, said the Holy Father, whose call arrived during the Vigil of Prayer before the departure.
“The theme of the pilgrimage is a very beautiful phrase: “Do you love Me?” said Francis, who added immediately: it’s a phrase with a double meaning, as road has two senses. I can ask Jesus: ‘Do you love me?” And Jesus asks me: ‘Do you love Me?’”
“I hope that this evening, on the road and the pilgrimage, each one of you hears Jesus’ voice: ‘Do you love Me?” Let him think and answer Jesus. And then ask Jesus: ‘Jesus, do you love me?’ And that each hear what Jesus says to his heart,” continued the Pope, whose words were published on the event’s Web page.
“May he Lord bless you and Our Lady protect you. Have a good pilgrimage!” said Francis, who concluded his brief message with gratitude. “Thank you all! Thank you so much!” he said, ending the call.
According to the organizers’ estimates, some 100,000 people took part in the 2017 edition of the pilgrimage. Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the new Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life celebrated the closing Mass at Loreto.