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Tuesday, February 28, 2017
EU president visits shrines of 'one of the first great Europeans'
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¬†Mr Pat Cox, President of the European Parliament, fulfilled a personal wish in making a pilgrimage to the shrines of Saint Columbanus in Northern Italy last week. The pilgrimage took him to San Colombano al Lambro, to Canevino and finally to Bobbio, the resting place of the great Irish missionary of the seventh century. "This trip to the shrines of St Columbanus is not a duty but a pleasure; not a visit but a pilgrimage", Mr Cox said in his address. Praying in Irish before the shrine of the renowned abbot, poet, scholar and preacher, Mr Cox expressed the hope that the courage and sense of purpose that inspired St Columbanus to preach the Gospel across the continent would guide the European family as it welcomed the new member states on May 1st. Mr Cox underlined aspects of St Columbanus' life that were an inspiration and encouragement to him in his role as President of the European Parliament. Columbanus came from the "edge of the world to the very heart of Europe"; he believed in the concept of a united Europe, a community of different nations that shared common values and a common goal. In his inaugural speech as President of the European Parliament in January 2002, Mr Cox referred to St Columbanus as one of the first great Europeans. Speaking in Bobbio, Mr Cox quoted Robert Schuman, one of the great architects of the European union, who remarked that Saint Columbanus "is the patron saint of those who seek to construct a united Europe" In meeting the local people at the three shrines on Friday, Mr Cox said that he was happy in his personal capacity to add his support to their efforts to have St Columbanus declared patron of the European Union. When questioned about the issue of including a reference to the Christian heritage in the European constitution, Mr Cox spoke about the importance of acknowledging all our traditions not out of a sense of sentimentality or of exclusion, but that secure in the appropriation of our past we could face the future with a greater confidence and inclusion. Mr Cox was accompanied by the Italian Vice President of the European Parliament, Mr Guido Podestŗ and by the Rector of the Pontifical Irish College in Rome, Monsignor Liam Bergin who was representing The Irish Bishops' Conference. Source: Irish Bishops Conference Media Office
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