Hospitality and pilgrimages

Why undertake a pilgrimage? There are those who choose to embark on a journey to find themselves, those who want to strengthen their faith or those who hope to rediscover it: everyone has the answer within themselves and the journey is the means to find it.

Pilgrimage is the oldest type of journey in history and stems from man's need to get closer to God in order to find his own spiritual dimension. This tradition exists in every country in the world: every people have developed journeys, of varying length, in their own territories aimed at finding themselves and God.

Who is the pilgrim?

The name 'pilgrim' comes from the Latin 'pergrinus' and means stranger, wayfarer, one who moves from one place to another. The term pilgrim is often associated with religious themes because, over time, pilgrimages have evolved into journeys of devotion and penance to a sacred place, losing the image of nomadism with which they were previously associated.

The pilgrim is often motivated by spiritual quest, penance or devotion, which is why journeys often end in places of worship: the pilgrim will arrive at the end of his spiritual journey, and self-searching, in a place of meditation, prayer and reunion with God. Here he can express himself in the way that suits him best: with silence, sometimes embarrassed, with an instinctive or choral prayer, or with a promise or a vow of gratitude.

Originally, the Christian pilgrimage originated as a devotional journey to Jerusalem by those who wished to convert, atone for their sins and gain the gift of eternal life. Later, in the late Middle Ages, penitential pilgrimages began to spread: these journeys were not focused on the inner quest, but were primarily a long journey to atone for one's faults and sins.

Crossing different historical periods and cultural movements, today's pilgrim has kept spirituality and self-seeking as the pivotal focus of the journey, but the motivations that drive him or her to undertake this endeavour can be the most diverse, not only religious. Today's society involves frenetic lifestyles, reduced space, little time to dedicate to oneself: hence the inner unease and sense of bewilderment that pilgrims often share. Contact with nature, the search for a new mental and physical harmony, feeling part of a group: this is the new pilgrimage.

Pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of the Graces

The Santuario delle Grazie is now a fixed stop for all pilgrims passing through Mantua: a place rich in history, culture and art, but above all in faith. It is Mary, mother of Jesus and to whom the Sanctuary is dedicated, who draws us to herself with that incredible gentleness, the same tenderness with which she loved her Son Jesus and the nascent Church in the Upper Room of Jerusalem.

The pilgrim who enters Santuario delle Grazie will notice that Mary continues to behave with us as she behaved with her Son Jesus, as if we were all her children, welcoming us with warmth and kindness into her home.

There are two moments that mark the confidentiality, acquired by the pilgrim during prayer and meditation, of Mary within her shrine:

Confession (or reconciliation). Everything contributes during the pilgrimage experience to the encounter with Jesus, who said: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest; take my yoke upon you and learn from me, who am meek and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your lives. For my yoke is sweet, and my burden light" (Matthew 11: 28). With personal confession, His word becomes warm, strong and decisive: "Arise," He then said to the paralytic, "take up your bed and go to your house. And he got up and went to his house" (Matthew 9: 5).

Eucharistic celebration. This is the heart of the pilgrimage, the summit and fulcrum of the life of the Church and of the entire Christian experience. Enjoying it thoroughly on a Marian pilgrimage means rediscovering the duty, the taste and the joy of attending Holy Mass with attention, dignity and devotion, especially on a Sunday: "Without Sunday, we cannot live", cried a group of martyrs of the early Church who were put on trial because they gathered for the Eucharist in their homes.

The Pilgrim's House

The Sanctuary is equipped with a small house for the accommodation of pilgrims, who request hospitality for a night while they are on their way. The facility consists of a room for meals with a kitchenette, a bathroom with shower, and two large rooms with 6 + 8 beds.

The house is also requested by scout or parish groups, who experience a retreat for two or three days. For information and reservations please contact the rector Don Giovanni Lucchi.

Pilgrim's Prayer

"Here, exiles and pilgrims, we sing:

not so much to enjoy rest, as to relieve ourselves of fatigue.

We sing as wayfarers!

Sing, but walk to ease the harshness of the march;

but singing, do not indulge in laziness.

Sing and walk, sing but walk!"

(St Augustine, Bishop).

Santuario delle Grazie
Pick a flower for the Blessed Virgin Mary of Grace