Vatican to launch pilgrim flights

The Vatican is starting a new charter service that will fly pilgrims to global holy sites. The first route will be from Rome to Lourdes in France on August 27. Some of the world’s top spiritual destinations are also planned, including the shrine of Fatima in Portugal, the shrine of the Madonna of Guadalupe in Mexico and Santiago di Compostella in Spain.

“The spirit of this new initiative is to meet the growing demand by pilgrims to visit the most important sites for the faith,” Father Cesare Atuire at the Vatican pilgrimage office, the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, told La Repubblica.

The Vatican has struck a deal with Italian charter airline Mistral Air, which is controlled by the Italian post office. Cabin crew “specialised in the voyages of a sacred nature” will man the planes

The interiors will be decorated with sacred inscriptions such as seat covers with the words: “I search for your face, Lord,” written on them.

The inaugural flight will include Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the former head of the Italian Bishops Conference, La Repubblica said.