.- The Vatican is introducing a set of short trips to holy sites aimed at introducing young people to the concept of pilgrimage and teaching them about the Catholic faith.
"This is a way to reach a different public like younger people, who wouldn’t normally contact Rome’s pilgrim office," said Rosamaria Mancini, manager of the Vatican’s Jospers community, an organization for pilgrims created by the Rome's pilgrim office.
The trips, called "Scrinium," are sold in gift boxes that include a two to three day trip for two people to a holy place, as well as accommodations at a bed and breakfast.
The destinations include Jerusalem, Lourdes, Fatima, Santiago de Compostela and Rome, but could soon include other holy sites in Italy.
“It’s aimed at people who don’t know what a pilgrimage is so that they can have a taste of it,” Mancini explained.
The trips currently being offered are financially supported by the Vatican's pilgrim office and the Italian publishing company Mondadori. They have a value ranging between €59 to €299 euros each, about $77 to $390 U.S. dollars.
Their launch on Dec. 6 included a short trip for local journalists to a holy site in Rome, the Holy Stairs, so that people unfamiliar with pilgrimages could have an "experience," according to Mancini.
The Holy Stairs are 28 steps that were transported to Rome from Jerusalem. They led up to the praetorium of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem, the place where Jesus stood during his interrogation by Pilate.
CNA took to the streets in Rome to ask Americans if they thought selling short trips would help in evangelizing young people and whether or not they would buy them.
"I have no idea if they will help evangelize young people, but I hope so," said Chris Pratka from Texas.
"Young people have so many issues with the world we live in, so it certainly couldn't hurt," said the 55-year-old, who is visiting Rome.
Eilishe Brown, a 24-year-old from Massachusetts, was not very optimistic about the idea.
"I would imagine that most people who would be willing to do that are already Catholic," Brown said.
"I'm not generally in the practice of evangelizing my friends, so I wouldn't really buy it for them," she added.
But Dorothy Cochran from Georgia believes that the initiative is “an excellent idea.”
"Any opportunity that would allow a young person to increase and enhance their faith should prove important in evangelizing and in offering them an opportunity to get to know more about why they believe and what they believe," the 62-year-old added.
"If I were Catholic I think I would definitely buy it for a friend or family," Cochran said.
And Dave McCourt from New Jersey was also in favor of the idea.
"I think that it's a good thing that the Church can afford to do this and help people to send them to holy and important places."
"If it's reasonably priced and it gives the opportunity for people to see these places, I'm for it," said the 22-year-old.
"I don't know if I would buy it for a friend, but I would definitely buy it for myself," McCourt remarked.