October 8, 2012

Prayers for peace and an end to terrorism and corruption in Nigeria filled Rome’s Church of St. John the Baptist, as 50 Christian government officials and religious leaders visited the Eternal City in preparation for sending 30,000 Nigerians on pilgrimage.

The Nigerian government gives financial aid to Christians visiting the Holy Land and New Testament sites in Greece and Rome, just as it pays for Muslims to make the haj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

John Kennedy Opara, executive secretary of the government’s Nigeria Christian Pilgrim Commission, said helping pilgrims is part of the government’s responsibility to “provide for the welfare of the people.

We believe pilgrimage is a tool for moral transformation and spiritual rebirth,” he said.

Pilgrimages help Muslims and Christians deepen their faith and renew their commitment to living holy lives, which benefits the whole country.