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A minisite to tell the story of pilgrimage to the four Papal Basilicas

Born from the shared experience of a group of young communicators selected by the Dicastery for Communication, the minisite "From Tourist to Pilgrim" launches today. It seeks to accompany the faithful on a journey to discover their identity as “pilgrims,” beyond mere sight-seeing “tourists.”

As part of the “Faith Communication in the Digital World” project, 16 young professionals from 10 different countries were accompanied by experts as they explored the four Papal Basilicas, not just as architectural monuments but as living witnesses of our faith. The multilingual minisite is the answer to the challenge of how to convert this experience into a digital project to introduce the Basilicas to a younger audience.

To use their own words: “We were touched when we visited the basilicas. Each and every one of us had at least a deep connection with one of them. Some of us even understood something really important in their life. We want visitors to live the same experience but in the Digital World. The more we are able to understand where our faith came from, the more we are able to communicate THE message well in order to touch people’s hearts.

Images of the saints and artists, whose lives and works have shaped these symbolic places, welcome those who visit the site, inviting us to “sit at table with them.” The table offers a space where not only food but glances, stories, and experiences are shared, thus inviting the visitor to pause for a moment and dedicate some time to a brief moment of reflection.

The primary means chosen to convey the firsthand experience is voice: these sacred spaces and their artistic masterpieces are explained by those who work in these places every day to welcome pilgrims. They include art curators, professionals responsible for excavation and restoration projects, professors, and religious men and women. Through the warmth and enthusiasm of their voices, they act as “witnesses” and share their love for everything the four Papal Basilicas represent.

The initiative From Tourist to Pilgrim also takes the form of a podcast with the goal of accompanying the pilgrim step by step through the most significant places of the Roman pilgrimage. Each episode acts as a “step” along the journey, offering special insights into the most significant parts of the Basilicas: “What may only seem like a city square to a tourist becomes a step, a journey, a divine symbol if viewed through the eyes of a pilgrim. These brief visits are designed to highlight the hidden beauty of Rome, revealed through the lens of pilgrimage.”

Just as each “pilgrim-communicator” has left traces of their own personal testimony, visitors to the site are also invited to share their own experience on their social media accounts and leave a testimony of their pilgrimage, whether in-person or digital, using the hashtag #FromTouristToPilgrim.

In view of the journey that will lead us to the 2025 Jubilee, the hope is that this experience will encourage a revival of the storytelling surrounding the millennia-old “Ad Limina Apostolorum” tradition of pilgrimage.