National Jubilee of Estonia

Pilgrimage to Rome and Other Holy Places

Under the auspicious protection of God and the Blessed Virgin Mary we have put ourselves at the feet of St. Peter in Rome, on occasion of the First National Jubilee Pilgrimage of Estonia, and for our friends and benefactors we have prepared this small account of the events that took place there. So many things happened in these days, so many adventures, experiences and wonders we saw that it will be impossible to recount and relate them all.

But let us start with the visit to the sanctuary of the Virgin of Czestokowa, in Poland. The Bridgetine Sisters there gave us a warm welcome, we celebrated mass in the sanctuary, and thus we started this pilgrimage. We are sure that the Blessed Virgin blessed us, who came from her land, Maarjamaa, "the land of Mary," as it was baptised long ago, and we continued our pilgrimage through the Alps. There, in Austria, we had to spend a night in the bus, the snow was so heavy that we were not able to arrive to Brescia in Italy until the next day. Don Secondo and all his parishioners at Brescia gave us a warm welcome, they were waiting for us from the day before, and they attended us as they would Christ himself.

Now, let us jump to the centre of this pilgrimage, Rome, the Chair of Saint Peter, who welcomed us in the person of His Holiness Pope John Paul II. We had a special place at the General Audience, and it was a wonder to see all this people, maybe inadequately dressed, being welcomed by Holy Mother Church in that manner. Here is the address His Holiness gave to our pilgrims, taken from L'osservatore Romano of March 20:

"Dear Brothers and Sisters from Estonia! I warmly welcome you on the occasion of your National Jubilee pilgrimage, led by Archbishop Erwin Joseph Ender, Apostolic Administrator of Estonia and Apostolic Nuncio. May your pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul strengthen your faith and your commitment to live according to the standards of the Gospel. As you walk in the footsteps of the holy martyrs of Rome, may you deepen your love of the Lord and his Church, and become ever more ready to serve your less fortunate brothers and sisters. Be courageous witnesses and joyful messengers of Christ's living presence in the World! God bless you! God bless Estonia!"

We were also received by His Holiness to his private chapel, and celebrated Mass with him, and He spoke with each one of us privately, giving each one his own blessing and a beautiful blessed rosary. You don't believe it? Here we have some pictures of this marvellous moment:

Here we are with His Holiness in his private studio…

… celebrating Mass in His private chapel…

And here we have Fr. Alfonso Di Giovanni kissing His Holiness' hands and placing himself at the feet of St. Peter, as everyone of us did. For more pictures of the pilgrimage, you are invited to look at our Pilgrimage Gallery

Here is an extract from L'osservatore Romano of March 30, from "La cronaca, di Gabriele Nicolò" in Italian:

"Non meno significativo, certo, e' il pellegrinaggio giubilare nazionale dei fedeli dell'Estonia. «È presto detto - afferma Padre Miguel Arata, parroco di Tartu - quale significato particolare ha per noi il Grande Giubileo: esso rappresenta l'inizio solenne di una nuova primavera cristiana». I primi, sensibili segni di questa «stagione» si erano già riscontrati nel 1993, cioè quando il Papa si recò in visita pastorale in Estonia. «Le parole di incoraggiamento che Giovanni Paolo II allora pronunciò per la nostra Nazione - afferma Padre Alfonso Di Giovanni, parroco di Valga - sono state come seme piantato in un terreno tanto bisognoso d'acqua. Quel seme sta dando ora i suoi frutti (tanti sono infatti i giovani, per essempio, che partecipano alle catechesi), e quindi in occasione del Giubileo i nostri fedeli - sottolinea il parroco - sentono il desiderio di manifestare al Santo Padre la loro gratitudine»."And here is the (unofficial) translation:

"It is no less significant, for sure, the National Jubilee Pilgrimage of the faithful of Estonia. «First thing to say is - affirms Father Miguel Arata, pastor of Tartu - which is the particular significance for us of the Great Jubilee: It represents the solemn beginnings of a spiritual spring.» The first sensible signs of this «season» were already in sight the 1993, that is, when the Pope came in his pastoral visit to Estonia. «The words of encouragement which John Paul II then pronounced for the sake of our Nation - affirms Father Alfonso Di Giovanni, pastor of Valga - have been like seed planted in a ground so much in need of water. This seed is rending now its fruit (there are so many the youth, for example, which participate to the catechises) and so, on occasion of the Jubilee our faithful - underlines the parish priest - feel the desire to manifest to the Holy Father their gratitude…"

And Now… Experiences of the People…

The Sunday after they returned, at mass, the pilgrims made an account of their experiences and the things that most helped their faith and their belief. Most of the pilgrims were a little bit sick, after having sang a lot during the pilgrimage, and some of them could not even speak. They just showed two thumbs up as a sign that their experience was something out of this world. As for the experience of those who were able to speak, we give a translation from Russian of the most important things:


As Father Alfonso explains, all these families that welcomed the pilgrims, are not extraordinary families. They are normal families, they have problems, fights and sad as well as happy moments like everybody else, but they have had an experience of the Risen Christ. They experience that, in giving we receive, in dying for the sake of the little ones we receive from Jesus Christ his own divine life…

We thank first of all God, who makes possible all our undertakings, and all our benefactors and friends who have made possible this event. You are always in our prayers. We thank also Don Secondo, Don Gino and Don Giovanni, and all the families in their parishes who welcomed us. The families that welcomed us are from the communities of the Neo Catechumenal Way in their respective parishes. We will continue to post experiences and relations about this pilgrimage, and so, until next time. God Bless...

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