HOLY LAND – The Franciscan Pilgrim Office (FPO) released the data relative to the flow of pilgrims in the Holy Land in 2019. The greater number of groups and, therefore, pilgrims came from the USA. Relative to Europe, Italy stands firmly in the first place, second globally.
The Franciscan Pilgrim Office is a part of the Christian Information Center, created to help priests and pilgrims to obtain permits to celebrate religious functions at the sanctuaries of the Custody of the Holy Land. The data on the numbers of the faithful of the Orthodox Churches who came on pilgrimage is not available to the FPO and are therefore not considered in this report.
Concerning the net number of the flow of pilgrims from the Greek Orthodox Rite, the Franciscan report highlights a series of data which are, in any case, of great interest. The report divides the number of groups and pilgrims by ecclesial areas and by rite. The most numerous of the ecclesial areas are clearly Catholic, of which the Roman (Latin) Rite represents more than 98% of the total. More than 13,000 Catholic groups came to the Holy Land last year, with a number of pilgrims reaching almost half a million (around 493,000). The combined Protestant Christian denominations led 3590 groups, for a total of over 136,000 pilgrims. The total of Christian pilgrims mentioned in the report for 2019 is around 630,000 people.
Among the 40 languages used in pilgrimages, English is firmly confirmed in the first position, spoken by over 37% of the total pilgrims.
The countries of origin numbered 115; with Europe the first continent by the number of states (35) followed by Africa (31), the Americas (23), Asia (22) and Oceania (4).
In Europe, Italian pilgrims mark the first place by the number of visits to the Holy Land, recording over 80 thousand in the year just ended. Next on the European podium are two countries that boast an important Catholic tradition, Poland (62 thousand pilgrims) and Spain (35 thousand).
According to the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, the number of tourists that entered Israel in 2019 came to around 4.500.000. 14.02% of them (equivalent to 630.933) contacted the FPO, thus confirming the ever-increasing relevance of religious tourism in the Holy Land.