Pope Travels to Apulia


(14 Jun 08 - RV) Pope Benedict XVI embarks on his 10th pastoral visit in Italy today.

The Holy Father's voyage this time will take him to the Italian towns of Santa Maria di Leuca and Brindisi, "on the heel of the boot," in the extreme south-east of the Italian peninsula.

Following Mass at the Sanctuary of Santa Maria de finibus terrae, in Leuca, Pope Benedict is scheduled to travel by helicopter to the ancient port city for an encounter with young people.

An ancient port city known in Latin as Brundisium, it was here that the Roman poet, Publius Vergilius Maro, better known as Vergil, died of fever before completing his epic poem, which sang of the exploits of the Trojan hero who was the ancestor of Rome's founders, and it is in Brindisi that St. Peter is said to have disembarked on his way to bring the Good News of Salvation to the capital of the world...

It is said that the shrine today, which has been built and rebuilt and so forth over the years - that it rose on a place where there was actually a temple dedicated to the goddess Minerva - and legend says that St. Peter appeared, and he came, of course from the East, he was on his way to Rome, and the temple just absolutely collapsed at his arrival on this land.

A long-time friend of Vatican Radio, Joan Lewis is currently EWTN's Rome bureau chief.

She tells us beyond myth and legend, Brindisi is a place that has quite literally seen the march of history...

The via appia, which begins in Rome, the ancient Appian Way, it went all the way South-East, and ends at Brindisi, and in fact, there's a small piazza in Brindisi with some of the original Appian Way stones, and several pillars from a temple that arose on the spot.

The Pope is scheduled to meet with Benedictine and Carmelite nuns in the archbishop's chapel on Sunday morning, and then celebrate Mass on the city's waterfront.

In the afternoon Pope Benedict is scheduled to meet with bishops from the region, then with clergy in the city's cathedral, before returning to Rome in the late afternoon.