Cover image for “From Tourist to Pilgrim” 

By Devin Watkins

Feb 23 2024

The four Papal Basilicas and the Dicastery for Communication team up to launch a new minisite to serve as a spiritual and artistic guide to the Basilicas and help the faithful turn “From Tourist to Pilgrim”.

As the Church continues through the Year of Prayer toward the 2025 Jubilee, the Vatican Dicastery for Communication has launched a minisite dedicated to the four Papal Basilicas in Rome.

“From Tourist to Pilgrim” seeks to introduce the Basilicas of St Peter, St John Lateran, St Paul Outside the Walls, and St Mary Major to younger audiences through content geared to their tastes.

According to a press release issued on Thursday, the website leans heavily on the medium of “voice” to convey the beauty and history of these sacred spaces and the artistic masterpieces that fill them.

‘Warmth and enthusiasm of voice’

Professionals engaged in art curation, excavation and restoration projects, along with religious men and women who minister to pilgrims every day, tell the stories of the Papal Basilicas in their own words.

“Through the warmth and enthusiasm of their voices, they act as ‘witnesses’ and share their love for everything the four Papal Basilicas represent,” according to the statement.

The minisite draws on the symbol of the table, populated by the saints and artists whose lives and art shaped the Basilicas.

“The table,” reads the communique, “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.”

Steps along pilgrim’s journey

The initiative “From Tourist to Pilgrim” also takes the form of a podcast that accompanies pilgrims along their journey; whether in-person or online; through the history of the Basilicas, offering special insights into their most significant aspects.

The podcast series launches on Feb 27, with a new episode released each Tuesday.

“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,” reads the communique. “These brief visits are designed to highlight the hidden beauty of Rome, revealed through the lens of pilgrimage.”

Papal Basilicas in the digital world

“From Tourist to Pilgrim” was born out of a project to train young Catholic communicators entitled “Faith Communication in the Digital World,” organized by the Dicastery for Communication (our parent organization).

Sixteen young professionals from ten countries visited the four Papal Basilicas along with experts, to help those who minister to visiting pilgrims see them afresh through the eyes of young people.

The minisite and the accompanying podcast represent the fruits of their experience in digital form.

“Each and every one of us had at least a deep connection with one of them,” said the young professionals. “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.” – Vatican News