Peace Pilgrimage – Rome 13-19 March 2012

Patriarch Gregorios III continued his pilgrimage in Italy, beginning with the Presanctified Liturgy at the Greek College, Rome on the Feast of Saint Benedict, 14 March. His Beatitude spoke a word of greeting to the College and congratulations to the Holy Father on his name-day.

On the following day, His Beatitude met with Andrea Riccardi, Minister for International Co-operation and Integration and founder of the Sant’Egidio Community and went on to give a press conference, explaining the purpose of his pilgrimage in the context of peace, living together and Christian presence in the Middle East. At midday for half an hour, His Beatitude met His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI in the Vatican, and speaking in German, talked to him about the role of Christians in the Middle East, the role of the Pope, of the Episcopal Conferences, of Vatican diplomacy, the role of local churches in the Middle East and especially in Syria. At 3.30p.m. His Beatitude received the recently withdrawn Italian Ambassador to Syria, Achille Amerio, who talked most amicably with him for an hour. His Beatitude was able to explain to him more about the situation in Syria.

On Friday, 16 March, Patriarch Gregorios III had meetings with the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti and Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, before serving the Akathist at the Greek College.

At the weekend, His Beatitude travelled to Piacenza, attending the panikhida for Virginio Foglietta, late Prior of the Patriarchal Order of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem.

On Sunday evening, His Beatitude returned to Beirut.

V. C.