Pope Francis has prayed for Nigeria especially those who lost their lives in the recent floods incident.
According to a statement on Monday by the Head Media and Public Relations, for the Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission, (NCPC), Celestine Toruka, the Pope granted audience to the Nigerian Pilgrims during the 2022 special pilgrimage to Rome organized by the Commission.
The Nigerian Pilgrims were led to the papal audience at the Vatican City by his Grace, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, among other high profile personalities.
The Pontiff received the Nigerian flag from the Nigerian pilgrims and prayed for peace and progress of Nigeria.
The Executive Secretary of the Commission Rev. Dr. Yakuba Pam who described the audience with the pope as spiritually fulfilling, Commended the good conduct of the pilgrims during the special pilgrimage to Rome in spite of the fact that there were some inadequacies, coupled with the fact the pilgrims were not able to visit Israel due to operational reasons.
However, the NCPC Boss assured the pilgrims especially the self-sponsored ones that the Commission would come up with a mechanism to accommodate them in the next pilgrimage exercise.
The President of the Baptist Convention, Rev. Dr. Israel Akanji who was one of the Pilgrims who met the Pope during the Papal audience stated that the visit was awesome and would have a special effect on Nigeria and her people. According to him “the fact that the Pope prayed for Nigeria and her people signifies a new beginning for the country”.
In the same vein, the general Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Barr. Daramola Bade also affirmed that the Papal audience was the best thing that help the pilgrims.
He was specifically happy that he personally handed over the Nigerian flag to Pope Francis. His words, “I will never forget this experience in my life”.
He further stated, “ I thank the NCPC for providing this veritable platform to be in the presence of his Holiness”, he said.
The Special Adviser to the Governor of Lagos State on Religion,(Christian) very Rev. Bukola Adeleke explained that the number of Holy sites visited during the special pilgrimage to Rome was worth the salt.
He said that the pilgrims visited the St. John Basilica, the Basilica of Mary as well as St. Peters Basilica all in Vatican among other important Holy sites visited.
He commended the efforts of NCPC in putting this special pilgrimage together while hoping that future special pilgrimage to Rome should be improved upon by the Commission.
In his assessment of the 2022 Special Pilgrimage to Rome, the Executive Secretary of the Enugu State Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board, Barrister Nestor Ezeme spoke on the Papal visit which he said was his first time ever to personally meet with his Holiness.
He said, he could not contain himself for joy for such a privilege of a life time.
He said, he would encourage his other colleagues in other states to see the need to embark on a Special Pilgrimage to Rome with their pilgrims considering its attendant blessings.
On the quality of hotels where the pilgrims were accommodated, he lauded the NCPC for providing descent accommodation for the pilgrims.
He particularly thanked the NCPC Boss for making sure that the special Pilgrimage to Rome was a reality in spite of all odds.
About 112 pilgrims participated in the NCPC 2022 special pilgrimage to Rome, made up of self sponsored pilgrims, Lagos and Enugu Pilgrims as well as some high profile personalities which include both the Deputy Governor of Enugu and Nasarawa State as well as some first class traditional rulers.