The Catholic pilgrims who walked 9 days to Juba

The Catholic pilgrims who walked 9 days to Juba

The Catholic pilgrims who walked 9 days to Juba

The pilgrims had been joined by a bunch of supporters to rejoice their arrival in Juba

A bunch of about 60 Catholic pilgrims are recovering after spending 9 days trekking by way of war-torn South Sudan to see Pope Francis within the capital, Juba.

“My toes are sore, however I’m not so drained. When the spirit is with you, you don’t get drained,” NightRose Falea mentioned as she licked her cracked, dry lips.

“I’d not have missed coming to Juba for something. We’re right here to get the Pope’s blessings. I’m assured that along with his blessings issues will change for this nation,” she instructed the BBC.

Pushed by religion and a way of patriotism, the ladies had set off from Rumbek – some 300km (190 miles) north-west of Juba.

Their mission: to hitch the Pope in prayer for the world’s youngest nation, which has been beset by battle since its independence in 2011 – a state of affairs that has introduced untold distress to tens of millions of its individuals.

“We walked for a few hours every day after which we’d spend the evening within the parishes on the centres the place we had been. It was tiring however price it,” mentioned Religion Biel.

As they walked for the previous few miles, mud and joyful songs stuffed the air as a caravan of individuals sang and stamped their toes.

The spectacle attracted crowds of onlookers. Some joined in because the dancing grew to become extra vigorous. Others, uncertain, stood at a secure distance to make approach for the group of girls wearing white and sporting headscarves with a print of Pope Francis’s face.

Their besmirched garments, blistered toes and cracked lips attested to the ordeal of the nine-day trek, however they nonetheless danced and jumped to rejoice their accomplishment.

Refreshments awaited them at Juba’s St Theresa’s Catholic Church, the place a welcoming social gathering had additionally began singing and dancing.

One pilgrim, who was shedding tears as she arrived, hinted on the trauma the years of combating have dropped at this nation.

“When you might have smelled and seen dying and hopelessness, then you’ll seek for peace with all of the may that you’ve,” mentioned the lady, who didn’t need to give her identify.

“I’ve misplaced sufficient, however alongside the best way I noticed love and all of us spoke one language – that of peace. I actually pray that even after the Pope leaves, we’ll nonetheless be like that,” she continued.

“He’s a prophet and no matter he prays within the subsequent few days, whereas on our soil, will come to move. Issues can be totally different. We’re going to be one individuals.”

The Catholic pilgrims who walked 9 days to Juba

A banner marking the 300km stroll was unveiled to welcome the pilgrims

The church is seen as a logo of hope for a lot of in South Sudan. It’s the place many displaced by the nation’s conflicts search refuge.

It has additionally continued to take a number one function within the social welfare of the individuals and given most of them a way of belonging.

Pope Francis is spending three days within the nation and can maintain a Mass on Sunday.

In a historic first, he travelled with two different Christian leaders – Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland Rev Iain Greenshields.

In 2019 Pope Francis kissed the toes of South Sudan’s bitter political rivals, President Salva Kiir and his deputy Riek Machar, after they met on the Vatican.

This was an act that shocked many, even when it didn’t instantly finish the combating.

Though that battle has now subsided, many native disputes nonetheless flip lethal frequently – on the eve of the Pope’s arrival, greater than 20 individuals had been killed in a cattle raid.

Thousands and thousands of South Sudanese can be hoping – and praying – that the go to of the three non secular leaders will mark a brand new starting for this troubled nation.



The Pope and Africa:

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