11 AUGUST 2006
BISHOP OF MEATH DR MICHAEL SMITH
LEADS DIOCESAN PILGRIMAGE TO ROME
“Our pilgrimage helps us to learn from the past
and be inspired by the story of our faith”
Tomorrow, Saturday 12 August, Bishop Smith will lead a group of 80 pilgrims from the
Diocese of Meath on a ten day visit to Rome and Assisi. The group will stay at the
Pontifical Irish College which is located at the centre of Rome. The Irish College has
close ties to the Diocese of Meath, being the place where St Oliver Plunkett and
generations of Meath clergy have prepared for the priesthood.
The pilgrimage includes the traditional visit to the four ancient Basilicas: St Peter’s,
St John Lateran, St Mary Major and St Paul’s. The group will touch the earliest life
of Christian Rome, making their way to the Basilica of San Clemente and the Catacombs,
which were the earliest burial ground of the Christian community in Rome, the resting
place of popes and martyrs.
The Meath pilgrims will also receive a guided introduction to the remains of the pre-Christian
Roman Empire at the Colosseum and the ancient Forum. The high point of the visit is the group’s
attendance at the General Audience with Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday 16 August and the
Celebration of the Eucharist by Bishop Smith in St Peter’s Basilica.
The pilgrimage includes a number of trips outside the city including to the Benedictine
monastery of Subiaco, where St Benedict began his life as a hermit, and the ancient remains
of Pompeii, which was destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 79AD. On Sunday 20 August, the
pilgrims will journey to Assisi, visiting the tombs of St Francis and St Clare, the famous
frescoes of Giotto and finishing with Mass in the Basilica of Assisi.
Looking forward to the pilgrimage, Bishop Smith said: “Every pilgrimage to Rome gives
the visitor a unique insight into the living history of the Christian tradition. As we
retrace the footsteps of martyrs, saints and fellow pilgrims, we have the opportunity to
learn from the past and to be inspired by the story of our faith. We make this pilgrimage
in a spirit of prayer, taking with us the intentions of relatives and parishioners at
home, as well as the needs of the world, not least of all our continued prayer for
peace in the Holy Land.”
Martin Long, Director of Communications at 086 172 7678 or
Marie Purcell, Communications Assistant at (01) 5053017
Notes for Editors
* A photograph of Bishop Michael Smith is available from the Catholic Communications Office.
* The Diocese of Meath has: a Catholic population of 223,200; 69 parishes; 149 Catholic Churches
and the patron saint of the diocese is St Finian.
* For further information on the dioceses of Ireland and on the Irish Bishops’ Conference please
log on to: www.catholiccommunications.ie