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Plenary indulgence granted to post-pandemic pilgrims in Italy

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ROME — As COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease in Italy, the country's bishops are hoping a new tourism initiative will attract would-be pilgrims.

One way the June 1-Sept. 17 initiative, "Ora viene il bello" ("Now comes the beautiful"), hopes to draw pilgrims is by granting a plenary indulgence to those who visit one of Italy's many shrines.

Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Vatican office that promotes and regulates indulgences, signed a decree granting a plenary indulgence after a request was made May 17 by Bishop Stefano Russo, general secretary of the Italian bishops' conference.

Among the conditions for receiving an indulgence are a spirit detached from sin, going to confession as soon as possible, receiving Communion and praying for the intentions of Pope Francis.

In a statement released May 29, Bishop Russo said the initiative, which is sponsored by the Italian bishops' national tourism office, offered a "great opportunity to regenerate hope" in the country which was devastated by the pandemic.

"We are slowly emerging from the dark period of the pandemic," he said. "Dante's words, 'Uscimmo a riveder le stelle' ('We come forth to behold the stars again'), accompanies us and exhorts us to raise our eyes toward the infinite, filled with that light that illuminates our confidence in the future."

Throughout the summer months, dioceses across Italy will hold prayer services, pilgrimages to local shrines and sporting events centered on the theme of hope.

The "Ora viene il bello" initiative will conclude Sept. 17, which will be known as "Pilgrim Day" and which will include "a pilgrimage to the most important shrine of the diocese where Mass will be celebrated," the bishops' conference said.

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© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021