Pontifical Council for the Pastoral
Care of Migrants and Itinerant People
H. E. Msgr. Salvatore FISICHELLA
President Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization
philosophers wrote that amazement is the beginning of every philosophy, which
means that without
at the reality that surrounds us we cannot be able neither of new knowledge nor
of fully understanding ourselves and the world. I am particularly glad to share
with all of you this moment of reflection. Having spent twenty years as a
professor of fundamental theology and eight years as Rector of a
I think how much important was in the past the experience that has characterized our centuries of history and established the premise of what we are achieving today with this conference. Two examples come spontaneously: the pilgrimage and the university. Even before the university was created, the Church proposed to his faithful the pilgrimage. Of course, it was first a religious experience, and yet this was combined, not extrinsically, with the cultural one.
From there on,
opened up that could give the
knowledge of nature, of sacred places, of cities
and cultures of the known world.
Certainly, to arrive up to
And yet, the pilgrim was also very curious, attentive to everything he encountered and eager to learn. In a word, a person who admires the items of market stalls, listens to musicians and jesters, who stay at fairs and listen to stories and legends of various kinds. If, on the one hand, the miracles of the saints are told to him, on the other, he learns about the great deeds of Charlemagne, Orlando and many Knights whose graves he encounters in his path. Do not forget that that pilgrim watched how churches were built, and many times, contributed in exchange for room and lodging. At the same time, however, he saw how to dyed the wool or how the wicker was interwoven, how the iron was forged or the meat was salted, how people met were dressed during winter and summer, or how to bread animals unknown to him.
In other words, he would learn how corporations and municipalities were organized, how markets and fairs were structured, by which ways the consumption of delicious spices from the East or the leather products coming the Nordic countries were carried... in short, a person who, in spite of all, would become a witness and interpreter. Even if he did not want, his pilgrimage was a deep cultural experience and he himself became a living part of passing of traditions and customs, the basic elements for every culture. The relative serenity of his home, his village and his town was broken by the flow of knowledge, information and languages that would cause the insatiable thirst for knowledge that is unique for each person. The second example is that of the university.