Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Goal of His Pilgrimage

This might be Benedict XVI's 41st month on Peter's chair... but in a way, only now has the papacy come full circle.

Having seen the world on 104 foreign trips over the course of his 27-year reign, John Paul II concluded his global pilgrimage in his pontificate's final summer with a pilgrimage to Lourdes -- where, struggling to kneel at the Grotto of Massabielle, he said "the Virgin Mary... began a dialogue between heaven and earth" and where he prayed for "the longed-for gift of peace."

"Kneeling here," he told the crowds, "I feel deeply that I have reached the goal of my pilgrimage."

Earlier tonight, as the shrine marks the 150th anniversary of its "dialogue," Wojtyla's successor returned to the Grotto and, at 9.30 local time (3.30pm in the East) will address the throngs gathered for the traditional evening vigil... fulltext as it drops.

PHOTO: AP/Alessandra Tarantino