Canonisation Pilgrimage 'largest to leave Australian shores'

10/06/2010

St Patrick’s Cathedral's Mary MacKillop statue by artist Peter Corlett
St Patrick’s Cathedral's statue of Mary MacKillop by artist Peter Corlett. Photo: Hamilton Lund.
More than 5,000 pilgrims from Australia and New Zealand are expected to make the journey to Rome for the 17 October Canonisation of Blessed Mary MacKillop, making it the biggest Christian pilgrimage ever to leave Australia’s shores, according to the official tour operator.

Managing Director of Harvest Pilgrimages Mr Philip Ryall said the figure would easily surpass the previous record for a pilgrimage event, when 2,200 young people travelled to Cologne for World Youth Day.

“There is going to be an Aussie invasion of Rome,” Mr Ryall said. “We have group booking from every diocese, schools and movements, as well as lots of private travellers, who are not part of a group.

“People are realising that this is not only an extremely historic occasion, with the canonisation of Australia’s first saint, but it will also be a moment of grace.”

The basic package is for a six-day stay in Rome, but many pilgrims are taking the opportunity to add on extra destinations, such as Assisi and Loreto, where Mary MacKillop also visited during her 1873 trip to Rome. Some are even heading to Scotland for the ‘Mary MacKillop Heartland’ tour, taking in areas from which Mary’s family hailed.

Harvest Pilgrimages is also the ticketing authority for the three key events being held in Rome in connection with the canonisation – a Vigil on the night before the canonisation, the canonisation ceremony in St Peter’s Square on 17 October and a Thanksgiving Mass on the Monday. All three events are free, but do require a ticket, to be ordered through Harvest.

For more information, go to the dedicated Mary MacKillop Canonisation pilgrimage site at www.canonisationtravel.com or phone Harvest on 1300 467 663.


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