On the morning of October 25, 2018, the Synod Fathers went on a pilgrimage ad Petri Sedem, that is to the grave of Saint Peter the Apostle. It was a walk of about 6 km, from Monte Mario to St. Peter’s Basilica. The Bishops from Poland speak about what a pilgrimage is and the significance it bears.
“A pilgrimage teaches us that we are always pilgrims on our way. A pilgrim is someone who has a destination. Going on a pilgrimage is also always a penitential act. A penitent is a man who experiences freedom. A pilgrimage is always connected with the subject of poverty, especially in the case of long pilgrimages like the one to Santiago de Compostela. Before leaving, you carefully choose things you want to take with you. Therefore, the pilgrimage teaches us to limit ourselves to what is necessary,” said Archbishop Grzegorz Ryś.
“Synod—syn-hodos—means ‘common path’; so, during this Synod, we share a common path. During a joint journey, the distance between people is shortened and the community is built. We need the experience of real closeness, of being together, as a complement to this ‘syn’, as we walk together,” said Archbishop Ryś.
The Bishops also mentioned the intentions that accompanied them during the pilgrimage. “These are universal intentions, inscribed in the whole Synod, as well as in my episcopal ministry. A pilgrimage is a clear example of a common path, on which you often have to stop to see the other person, and it is, above all, a path walked on together,” said Bishop Marek Solarczyk.
The Bishops went along parts of the old Frankian road (the Via Francigena), which goes from England, through France, Italy, and Rome, and then to the Holy Land. “During this pilgrimage three stations, showing the biblical sense of a pilgrimage were prepared. However, my intention on this pilgrimage was to pray for the Catholic Church in Poland, for all the dioceses, for the sanctification of the priests and the holiness of God’s people,” said Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference.