There are places in the world that have played a major role in the spread of Christianity across the globe. Of course, this is the Holy Land where the biblical characters and Jesus Christ lived and where it started. And then comes Italy and its eternal capital – Rome.
Why? After all, at the beginning of our era, everything that appeared in the Roman Empire was later expanded to the rest of the world. To establish Christianity in Rome meant to establish it in Europe, Asia, and Africa as well. There was a long-time battle between the light of Christ and the darkness of paganism. In the 4th century, Emperor Constantine the Great converted to true faith and legalized it. Thanks to this event of the past, the followers of Christianity today live in all parts of the world. Many relics and sanctuaries of the past have been preserved to this day. Now, they are magnets for pilgrims.
People travel to holy sites with faith in the almighty Lord. They receive His mercy, salvation from sins, and healing of mental and physical disorders.
Nowadays, the majority of churches in Italy are Catholic. But Orthodoxy is the second-largest denomination in the country. Local Orthodox believers are mainly emigrants from Eastern European states and their descendants. In addition to that, Orthodoxy is popular in the south of the country because this part was under the influence of the Byzantine Empire for a long time. After its decline, many believers moved to this region.
Anyway, the ancient treasures that were obtained before the East-West Schism are revered by representatives of both churches equally. For example, St. Peter’s Basilica – the largest Christian church in the world – is the center of Catholicism, although it was erected at the burial place of the apostle. Saint Peter is revered by all Christians. However, any person, no matter what he believes in, should see this grandiose cathedral with his own eyes.
The main treasure of Italy, the Holy Shroud, is kept in the northern part of the country in the city of Turin. It was used for wrapping the body of Jesus Christ at His burial, and the traces of His blood remained on it. Over the past 2,000 years, the Shroud has been burned, boiled in oil, and washed. However, nothing could remove the blood stains, thus, confirming their divine origin. But even this isn’t even the main miracle. It’s almost impossible to believe that the face of Christ appears on all photos of the Shroud. And the Parisian surgeon Barbier, who examined the Shroud, came to the conclusion that the body left the fabric before it was unfolded. By the way, the atheistic professor became a deeply religious person, like many other scientists who studied the treasure.
Not far from Turin, there’s the city of Milan. It’s famous for its cathedral erected in honor of the Nativity of Saint Mary. It’s the third-largest cathedral in the world and its construction took more than 400 years. It contains many relics of saints who were martyred in Italy.
The relics of Saint Nicholas rest in the city of Bari. They have been in the same place for almost 1,000 years. The construction of the Basilica of Saint Nicholas began almost immediately after his death. This is a very ancient building. Christians all over the world come to worship the great saint but Orthodox believers revere him the most. The relics of Saint Nicholas are myrrh-streaming and the precious myrrh is collected by the clergy. They mix it with holy water and pour it into small vessels that every pilgrim can purchase.
Locals are confident that the merciful Wonderworker protects their entire city. But the treasures of Bari are also associated with other important figures. One local church is a true depository for relics – the particles of the crown of thorns, the cross of Christ, and the relics of James the Apostle are kept. Each treasure is worth taking a long trip to see, and luckily for believers, they are located in one place.
Italy is an ancient land. And the history of mankind is closely connected with the history of religion. That’s why you can see the sanctuaries in Italy literally everywhere you go. For example, the Colosseum is known primarily as a place for gladiator fights, ancient festivals, and performances. However, it’s also significant for religious people. After all, a huge number of Christians were martyred in this arena, and many of them were canonized later. The cross installed in the Colosseum reminds us of those who died for Christ.
When going on pilgrimage to Italy, people want to visit as many sites as possible, and not waste time on solving everyday issues. The Andcross Pilgrim Ecclesiastic and Educational Center has been helping brothers in faith to do such trips for more than 20 years. It organizes everything so the believer can focus on praying, turning to God and saints, and admiring the beauty of historical sites.
On the website of the Pilgrim Center, you can find more information about upcoming trips. It’s possible to visit not only Italy but also other sacred places important for Christians.
Pilgrim Ecclesiastic Educational Centre Andcross