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A replica of the official pilgrim’s sign is released in Vatican

On the occasion of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year, the Apostolic Library of Vatican for the first time in history gave its permission to make the official sign of a pilgrim according to the pattern of the ancient relic Testimonium, which is kept in its funds.

A little square Testimonium Plaque with the images of Saint Apostles Peter and Paul is preserved in the famous collection of coins and medals of the Apostolic Library. It approximately dates back to the beginning of the 11th century. Such symbols, made of lead or tin, the medieval pilgrims, who were making a pilgrimage to the Holy City, received from Roman canons and attached them to their clothes or travelling bags. These signs were the testimonies (testimonium, in Latin) of the undertaken pilgrimage, granting their owners a number of privileges.

A replica of the official pilgrim's sign is released in Vatican

«Pilgrimage to Rome began soon after the introduction of Christianity, when the believers had a desire to make a visit ad limina apostolorum, that is, to visit the burial sites of Apostles Peter and Paul, which, according to the Christian faith and tradition, are located in Vatican and on a Roman road via Ostience. This practice reached its highest peak in the 14th century,” — said the Archivist and Librarian of the Roman Catholic Church, French archbishop Jean Louis Bruguès.

According to the archbishop, the believers, who made their pilgrimages in the Middle Ages, left their homelands being fully aware of the hardships of the journey lying ahead of them, and of the dangers involved with it.

“These pilgrims were traveling on foot walking 30 to 40 kilometers a day, and they always had to be on the alert, lest they become an easy target for some highwaymen. Throughout these journeys, they were suffering from sicknesses, which made their destination even farther from them. Due to all these reasons, many of the pilgrims left their last will, for they did not always had the hope of returning home safely,” — noted archbishop Jean Louis Bruguès.

Bruguès pointed out that, unlike the present pilgrims, the medieval pilgrims had a number of various privileges. So, for example, they were freed from paying the road toll; they had the right to receive alms, and to stay in hospitals and some other public places free of charge.

“On their way back from Rome, they could be easily recognized because of the special signs with the images of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, sewed to their cloaks, as a testimony of the pilgrimage they had made. One such plate is preserved in our collection of coins and medals, and the Apostolic Library of Vatican has authorized a faithful reproduction of it.”

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