Pilgrims to follow in Pope's footsteps

  • 2007-08-14
  • By Mike Collier
VILNIUS - At a cabinet meeting Aug 13, Lithuanian government ministers approved the creation of a Pope John Paul II pilgrimage route through the country, which should be ready for prospective pilgrims by 2013.

A programme was agreed to plan for necessary public infrastructure, arrangements for visiting the sights; work related to readjustment of the route to the needs of pilgrims and tourists and marketing and promotion of the pilgrimage route nationally and worldwide.

The government invited the public, municipalities, counties, businesspeople and foreign partners to participate in the project, saying that it hoped the programme would "help future generations to preserve the sacred sights and attract visitors, thus encouraging in-bound tourism and pilgrimage."

The route includes all the most important sacred sights visited by Pope John Paul II during his 1993 visit to Lithuania, as well as other places associated with him or otherwise important to pilgrims and tourists. The sights were selected by a workgroup consisting of the representatives of the Lithuanian Bishops' Conference, the curias of Lithuanian archdioceses and dioceses, and various government institutions.

Major attractions along the proposed route include the cathedral of St Stanislaus and St Vladislav in Vilnius, the Vilnius Way of the Cross, Trakai, Pazaislis Camaldolese monastery, the Hill of Crosses, and numerous other churches and sacred sites across the country.

Sacral tourism is a growing market and with its significant Roman Catholic heritage, an organized route could prove effective in focussing pligrims' energies 's and wallets 's on Lithuania.