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Vatican launches pilgrimage firm

 A charter flight from Rome to Lourdes yesterday, marked the start of a new Vatican initiative to link Rome with major pilgrimage destinations worldwide. The scheme is a joint venture by the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, the Vatican institution whose mission is to evangelize through pastoral tourism, and the Italian airline Mistral Air, to fly pilgrims to shrines and holy sites. Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Pope's vicar for Rome, lead the group of 100 pilgrims, on the day trip to Lourdes and celebrated Mass in the Basilica of St Bernadette. Around 30 flights have been planned between now and the end of the year, to shrines in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Destinations include Fatima, Portugal; Santiago de Compostela, Spain; Czestochowa, Poland; Alexandria, Egypt; and the Holy Land. Source: VIS