Dec 1, 2009

Pilgrimage to Rome

More than 160 pilgrims from Japan waved small national flags of both Japan and the Holy See during the general audience in the Paul VI Hall on Wednesday, 25 November. On the stage sitting next to Holy Father were 6 Japanese bishops, including myself together with Apostolic Nuncio to Japan. The pilgrimage had been planned by the Japanese Bishops conference to show our gratitude to Holy Father on beatification of 188 martyrs a year ago and present the relics of Japanese martyrs to him. The group of pilgrims were divided into several small groups and each group had different itinerary. I joined the group of 13 which followed the shortest schedule of leaving Japan on Monday and return to Narita on Saturday. Among these 13 were Bishop Jinushi, emeritus bishop of Sapporo, and Father Urano of Tokyo diocese.

All the groups came together for the Wednesday's activities which included the general audience to meet Holy Father, Mass in Vatican city government office chapel, private visit to the Sistine Chapel and a diner in near by Hotel inviting several Cardinals and other dignitaries, among them was Mr Ueno, the Japanese ambassador to Holy See. It was a long day and tough activities for most of the pilgrims who were quite advanced in age.

Besides the Wednesday activities, we had a chance to celebrate Mass in Lateran basilica and Jesu Church where the right arm of St Francis Xavier has been kept and venerated. He is the beginning of everything of Christian history in Japan. I was privileged to give homily during that Mass.

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