Caritas Athens hosted two female students during their Pilgrimage walk to the Holy Land
The Pilgrimage of St. James in Compostela, Portugal is, if not the most famous, one of the most famous in the world. Recently in Caritas Athens we had the opportunity to learn about another pilgrimage, which took place for the first time in the Holy Land, Etheria *, during the second half of the 4th century AD. and today various groups of young people follow, mainly from France.
The occasion was the hospitality from Caritas Athens of two students: 22-year-old Berenice and 23-year-old Fostin who met in the Christian union of their University and after two and a half years of spiritual preparation and with only a weapon of their faith decided to follow in the footsteps of Etheria to worship the Holy Sepulcher.
They started on January 24th in Paris and have already traveled more than 3,000 km on foot. All they ask for is hospitality from institutions or the residents of the areas they pass through. On Wednesday, July 14th, the two pilgrims arrived in Athens, where they had to stop for 5 days, until they get the second dose of the Covid 19 vaccine.
Caritas Athens, wanting to facilitate their pilgrimage, offered safe hospitality to the two young students in the facilities of the Archdiocese in Neos Kosmos, as well as a hot meal throughout their stay in the capital. In exchange for the fraternal hospitality, the pilgrims asked to offer volunteer work at the soup kitchen (meals of love) on Kapodistriou Street. They also had the opportunity to meet with the President of the Organization, Archbishop of the Athen’s Catholics Fr. Sevastianos Rossolatos, the Vice President and Director of Caritas Athens Fr. Georgios Dagas, the secretary of the Board of Directors Ms. Elisabeth Ioustinianou-Merritt, the Program Coordinator Ms. Kalliopi Papakalou, as well as employees, with whom they shared their experience.
In a second meeting, which I had with them, the two girls thanked again the Organization for the hospitality that contributed a lot to their rest, so that they can continue their journey to Cyprus and Lebanon with a final destination in the Holy Land.
They also assured that they will transfer to their homeland and the experience they lived in Caritas Athens with the hope of a future cooperation. Finally, they asked us to pray for the completion of their pilgrimage, as they will be in a difficult geopolitical area. Giving a firm handshake they greeted me saying "En union de prière" which translates as "united in prayer".
Have a nice trip !!!
* France or Gallicia (Spain) is probable as the place of origin of Etheria. Most researchers consider her a nun or abbess of a monastery, but it is possible that she was a common, aristocratic origin "who was particularly moved by ecclesiastical life, solitary life and travel."