Rome (Agenzia Fides) - On the occasion of the 500th anniversary (1521-2021) of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines, more than 250 Filipino pilgrims from Europe met in Rome on July 31 to celebrate the biennial pilgrimage of faith to the Marian Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. On March 14, Pope Francis celebrated a solemn Mass in the Vatican Basilica to celebrate the anniversary. Under the aegis of 'La Fede a Piedi (walk on faith)', despite the pandemic, Filipino communities from Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France and other European countries, together with their chaplains, did not want to give up on this great event. As can be seen in the note sent to Fides, after the recitation of the Rosary, animated by reflections and songs, the Filipino missiologist, Fr. Andrew Recepciòn gave a brief speech in which he stressed that Filipino migrants are the 'new missionaries' of the Philippines through their 'love for family, religiosity and indirect witness of faith in their workplaces'. Taking up the words of the Pope who, in 2018, addressing the Filipino community defined them as 'smugglers of the faith', Mgr. Jan Thomas Limchua, Filipino official of the secretariat of state of the Holy See, reiterated that the Filipino community can be a witness of Jesus Christ by sharing their Christian faith with others together with the most genuine Christian values.
The next pilgrimage of the Filipino community will be held in Milan in 2023. On August 5 of each year, the solemnity of the dedication of the Papal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore takes place. On this occasion, the Feast of Our Lady of the Snow is celebrated in memory of the legendary miracle of the snowfall that inspired Pope Liberius to found the sacred building. In the Basilica there is also the Salus Populi Romani, an image to which Pope Francis is particularly devoted and usually visits before and after each of his apostolic journeys. (AR/AP) (Agenzia Fides, 5/8/2021)