Pope Francis greeted in Rome an Egyptian delegation led by Tourism Minister Yehia Rashed, to promote a pilgrimage in the footsteps of the Holy Family’s Biblical flight into Egypt in the first century.
Speaking during the Wednesday General Audience in St Peter’s Square, the Pope recalled his Apostolic Journey to Egypt in April 2017 saying that he has fond memories of the visit.
He said Egypt is “a land where Saint Joseph, the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus, as well as many prophets lived: a land that has been blessed with the precious blood of martyrs spilt throughout the centuries”.
Pope Francis described Egypt as a land of cohabitation and hospitality; a land of encounter, of history and of civilisation. He gave a blessing to Egyptians, and prayed for the Lord to protect their nation, the Middle East and the whole world from terrorism and evil.
The Pope also blessed an icon that represents the Flight of the Holy Family to Egypt.
The Egypt pilgrimage route takes pilgrims to eight different sites in Egypt. It starts in the city of Al-Arish in North Sinai, moves west to the Nile Delta and Cairo, then further west to Wadi al-Natroun in the Western Desert, home to four important Coptic monasteries. Visitors then head south to Upper Egypt where the main part of their two – three – year residence in Egypt took place.
The Egyptian delegation is meeting tourism officials in Rome in an effort to promote the Holy Family in Egypt route as an important pilgrimage destination. By reviving the pilgrimage, the government hopes to breathe new life into the tourism sector badly damaged by the 2011 Arab Spring and its consequences.
7 October 2017