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PRESS RELEASE: Condolences to those in Santiago de Compostela train crash

July 25 2013:

The meeting began with candles lit for those who died. July 26 2013. More photos.

All of us who are meeting in Trondheim, Norway’s pilgrim city, today for the second meeting of the Green Pilgrimage Network were shocked to hear this morning of the train crash outside Santiago de Compostela last night, in which at least 77 people were killed and more than 140 hurt.

On behalf of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) and the Green Pilgrimage Network we express our deepest sympathies for the pilgrims, and the families and friends of the pilgrims, who died or were injured in the terrible train crash just outside this holiest place.

Tomorrow afternoon we will light a candle in their memory at the opening of the Green Pilgrimage Network meeting in Trondheim, at which Santiago de Compostela will officially become a member. We will also light a candle for the many thousands of pilgrims who died, were injured or disappeared over the past month in the terrible floods in the state of Uttarkhand in northern India.

The GPN is a global network of pilgrim cities and sacred sites around the world wanting to be models of green action and care. It works in partnership with the faiths and the secular organizations all around the world, in the area of what is the largest single collective human activity in the world: pilgrimage.

A wreath on the statue of St James on the west front of Trondheim Cathedral in honour of those who died in the Santiago train crash
“We know that we need not only to make pilgrimage gentle to the earth, but gentle to the pilgrims as well,” said ARC’s secretary general Martin Palmer.

“It has happened for millennia that people will go to holy places as part of their spiritual journey in life. Our role is to help the cities and sacred places make it as safe and environmentally positive as possible,” said director of the National Pilgrimage Centre of Norway, Berit Lånke.

Some 200 million people go on pilgrimage every year. This year, 2013, it is perhaps 250 million, as it is the one year in twelve that the Hindu Kumbh Mela pilgrimage has taken place during January and February.

Members of the Green Pilgrimage Network include Amritsar, Etchmiadzin, Haifa, Jinja Honcho (Association of Shinto Shrines, Japan) Kano, Louguan, Luss, St Albans and Trondheim.

Those due to join this week are: Santiago de Compostela; Canterbury; Iona; Norwich Cathedral; Nanded and Takhat Sri Hazur Sahib; Puri; Rajaji and Ranthambore Tiger Reserves in India (which attract millions of pilgrims to the temples in or near them); Rishikesh, Varanasi, Mexico City (and the shrine of Our Lady of Guadelupe); Friends of the Earth Middle East and the Lower Jordan River Project; Bethlehem; Matale; Vadstena.


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Green pilgrimage network members
The vision is of pilgrims on all continents and the pilgrim cities that receive them, leaving a positive footprint on the Earth
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