ASIA/CHINA - WYD 2023, Chinese pilgrims on their way to Lisbon visit Propaganda Palace and the Ave Maria in Mandarin resounds in the Chapel of the Three Kings

Friday, 21 July 2023 pilgrimages   world youth day   mission   local churches   dicastery for evangelization  

Rome (Agenzia Fides) - "This wonderful 'unscheduled' program was a grace from God". "What better could we hope for than to start our WYD journey in Lisbon"?! "It's a gift from God, an immense honor and a marvelous surprise". These are the most recurrent expressions used by young Chinese people who, yesterday, having recently landed in Rome after a 12-hour flight and without having recovered from the effects of jet lag, in a scorching Eternal City due to summer temperatures, had the unscheduled opportunity to visit the Palace of Propaganda Fide, the historic building overlooking the Spanish Steps, seat of the Dicastery for Evangelization. The Chinese pilgrims were warmly welcomed by Monsignor Samuele Sangalli, Undersecretary of the Dicastery, on behalf of the Pro-Prefect, Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle. The group of 50 girls and boys, accompanied by adults and some elderly members of their families, are on their way to Portugal, where they will participate in the "Lisbon 2023" World Youth Day. Rome is the first stop on their European pilgrimage. They all listened with emotion to the greetings addressed to them by Monsignor Sangalli, who expressed in simple words his joy for this unexpected meeting between brothers and sisters in faith, which took place in a place full of signs and resonances of the loving concern of the Church of Rome for Chinese Catholics. All the pilgrims, who came from different provinces of mainland China, also received the missionary Rosary as a gift, given to them in the historic headquarters of the Congregation of Propaganda Fide, which was given to them at the historic headquarters of the Congregation of Propaganda Fide, which had sent missionaries such as Matteo Ricci and Father Teodorico Pedrini to China. Everyone immediately wore the missionary rosary around their necks. Then, in the Chapel of the Three Kings, the work of the great artist Francesco Borromini, they sang the song of Ave Maria in their mother tongue (see video), moved to tears by the experience of being able to invoke Mary in the place from which so many missionaries left, in past eras, to bring the gift of the Gospel to China, offering their whole life to their Chinese brothers and sisters. During their visit to the Propaganda Palace, the Chinese pilgrims also admired the statue and listened again to the story of Cardinal Celso Costantini, the first Apostolic Delegate in China, who after his years spent on Chinese soil became Secretary of the Missionary Congregation, working intensely in the Palace in Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Steps). The emotions and joys of this first day of pilgrimage made the whole group forget the difficulties of the long journey. The pilgrims of the Chinese group come from the provinces of Shaanxi, Shanxi and Hebei. The youngest of the group is 15 years old. Some have recently received baptism, others have not yet been baptized and live the pilgrimage as a first step on the path of new life which flourishes from the encounter with Jesus. After Rome, the group of pilgrims will also travel to Assisi, Avignon, Lourdes, Zaragoza, Madrid and Salamanca, before heading to Lisbon. Pilgrims prepared for the journey by taking first catechism classes and participating in spiritual retreats. Before leaving the Palace of Propaganda, the pilgrims wanted to gather once again in the Chapel of the Three Kings and once again thank Jesus and Mary for the unforgettable experience they had in visiting the places from which so many missionaries have left, from generation to generation, animated by the desire to proclaim the joy of the Gospel of Christ in China and throughout the world. (NZ) (Agenzia Fides, 21/7/2023)