The “Iter Europaeum” initiative aims to celebrate 50 years of relations between the Holy See and the European Union. Ambassador Alexandra Valkenburg-Roelofs explains the concept of this “European walkway of Churches in Rome”.
By Francesca Merlo
The “Iter Europaeum” initiative was presented on Monday in a press release on Monday as a way to celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the European Union.
A Church for a State
The EU Ambassador to the Holy See, Alexandra Valkenburg-Roelofs, explained to Vatican Radio’s Mario Galgano that this is “a European walkway of Churches in Rome”.
The celebrations will begin on 9 May, Liberation Day, and the aim is to showcase the historic ties between all EU member states. The Iter Europaeum will continue until 27 June. Each Sunday, there will be liturgical celebrations, concerts and guided tours at the selected churches and basilicas.
In Rome, there is a church with strong ties to almost every EU member state, explains Ambassador Valkenburg-Roelofs. The only two missing are Denmark and Estonia, which have instead been taken up in what is being referred to as “the European Church”, because of its relations with Charlemagne.
What will we see?
In each Church, people undertaking the journey will find a “totem explaining something about the relationship between the EU and the Holy See, as well as something about the relationship of that specific member state to the EU”. A totem will also explain why that specific church has been chosen.
Another resource available is a guidebook – downloadable online.
Ambassador Valkenburg-Roelofs explains that anyone can undertake the journey “either partially or virtually”, since all information found in the Churches can also be found on the website.
Ambassador Valkenburg-Roelofs goes on to note that for “eight consecutive Sundays, part of these walkways will start with a Mass followed by a visit to some of the churches.”
Due to the restrictions in place to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, participation on Sundays will be by invitation only. All media are invited to participate.
On 9 May, when the world marks Europe Day, Mass will be celebrated by Cardinal Angelo di Donatis in the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, in hope that “a lot of friends and colleagues” will be able to join in the celebrations.
The Holy Mass will be followed by a visit to the nearby Basilica Santi Quattro Coronati selected by Latvia. The walkway will continue with a visit to the Basilica San Clemente, chosen by Czechia, and conclude at the nearby Hungarian Basilica di Santo Stefano Rotondo al Celio, ending the section of the walkway on 9May. The Iter Europaeum will continue until 27 June 2021.
Ambassador Valkenburg-Roelofs also expresses her joy that the event could be organized in line with Covid-19 safety measures.
A way to celebrate
“We were looking for a way to celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations,” she says, “and we have found one.”
Finally, Ambassador Valkenburg-Roelofs urges everyone, whether they are in Rome or not, to physically or virtually “walk the walkway, to know Rome and the rich joint history that Europe and the Holy See enjoy.”
Days and churches
Each Sunday will be dedicated to a number of countries as listed below:
Portugal – Sant’Antonio dei Portoghesi
Romania – San Salvatore alle Coppelle
France – San Luigi dei Francesi
Cyprus & Greece – San Teodoro in Palatino
Spain – San Pietro in Montorio
Malta – Santa Maria del Priorato
Croatia – San Girolamo dei Croati
Ireland – Sant’Isidoro a Capo le Case
Germany – Chiesa Evangelica Luterana
Poland – Santo Stanislao dei Polacchi
Lithuania – Chiesa del Gesù
Finland – Santa Maria sopra Minerva
Bulgaria – San Paolo alla Regola
Belgium – San Giuliano dei Fiamminghi
Sweden – Santa Brigida
Austria – Santa Maria dell’Anima
Italy – Santa Maria degli Angeli
Luxembourg – Sacro Cuore di Gesù
Slovenia – Santa Maria Maggio
European Union, Denmark, Estonia – Campo Santo Teutonico
Netherlands – Santi Michele e Magno
Slovakia – Pontificio collegio Slovacco dei Santi Cirillo e Metodi
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