By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA – Cardinal Justin Rigali is inviting pastors of the Archdiocese’s 267 parishes to sponsor a parish pilgrimage to the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul and to celebrate Mass there for their parishioners.

“The Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul, the Mother Church of our Archdiocese, serves as a testament of faith in our Archdiocese,” said the Cardinal in a letter to priests dated Sept. 8.

The Cardinal extended the invitation to pastors in order to introduce more people to the spiritual patrimony, aesthetic beauty and architectural grandeur of the Cathedral, and to encourage a devotional visit, he said.{{more}}

“It is the center of the liturgical life of our local Church. Since 1864, thousands have visited and prayed here every year. However, it seems the number of our own faithful of the Archdiocese who have visited the Basilica is very limited.”

Parishioners who participate in their parish’s pilgrimage to the Cathedral will receive a plenary indulgence upon the fulfillment of other requirements, including reception of the sacraments of reconciliation and holy Communion, and the offering of prayers for the intentions of the Pope.

The pilgrimage includes a tour of the Cathedral, the adjoining Chapel of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament and the crypt below the Cathedral’s main altar.

The crypt contains the remains of most of the Philadelphia Archdiocese’s archbishops and bishops and of several prominent clergymen of the Archdiocese.

“The pilgrimage is not only a time of prayer, but a manifestation of the people’s special relationship with the Archbishop,” said Msgr. Arthur Rodgers, rector of the Cathedral.

“Since the cathedral is where the cathedra, the seat of the Archbishop, is located, that is something that is a sign of their relationship with the Archbishop, their relationship to the Pope and their relationship within the Church – as a member of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Church universal,” he said.

Within the course of a week, hundreds of visitors, many of whom are tourists from all corners of the world, visit the Cathedral, Msgr. Rodgers said.

Sixty volunteer Cathedral ambassadors assist the rector in welcoming the tourists and guiding them on tours.

“It is a privilege to be the rector of the Church of the Archdiocese and to oversee the ceremonies and celebrations within the Cathedral so that, hopefully, all our visitors find a deep religious experience when they are visiting the Cathedral Basilica,” Msgr. Rogers said.

To arrange for a pilgrimage, call Msgr. Arthur E. Rodgers at 215-561-1313 or e-mail him at

For more information about the Cathedral, including a photo tour, visit the web site

CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at 215-587-2468 or