Saint Philip Neri, founder of the Oratorian Fathers, is renowned as a modern-day apostle of Rome, and the saint of joy.

Among his many apostolates was Rome’s seven church pilgrimage. Every Wednesday of Holy Week, Philip invited the youth he knew to join him on a day-long walk to the four major basilicas and three of Rome’s minor basilicas. At each church, the pilgrims prayed and received catechesis, and between each church, they sang and prayed litanies. The day also included a picnic lunch.

The annual pilgrimage became very popular, survived a two-year suppression by an over-serious pope, and four hundred years later is an entrenched fixture of Holy Week in Rome.

Fr Nicholas Pearce, who has more than a passing devotion to St Philip, has adapted the pilgrimage to Melbourne. The walk is moved to Palm Sunday and the number of churches is reduced to five, but the underlying concept is unchanged.

Pilgrims are invited to attend Mass at their local parish and then meet at St Patrick’s Cathedral for a 1:30pm start. The pilgrimage concludes with a 6pm Holy Hour at the Seminary Church of the Sacred Heart in Carlton, and 7pm dinner on Lygon Street.

It’s a nice way to start Holy Week!