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Vatican Air Passengers Holy Water Confiscated
By: RSS/News FeedsHungZai Team

The passengers on board the Vatican’s first flight to Lourdes may have been pilgrims in search of spiritual healing, but they still had to obey anti-terrorism rules, it has emerged, after several of them had their holy water confiscated.

The Vatican’s new service, a Boeing 737 painted in yellow-and-white papal livery, took off from Rome’s Fiumicino airport on Monday, serving swordfish canapes to 148 pilgrims reclining on headrests stamped with the message: “I search for your face, oh Lord”.

While the outward journey was smooth, turbulence struck on the return when anti-terror rules were strictly applied by the French police.

No bottles containing more than 100ml of liquid were allowed on board unless checked in, meaning passengers were forced give up the holy water they had just collected at Lourdes.

Many hoped to ferry the water back to sick relatives.

Instead, dozens of plastic containers in the shape of the Madonna were left at security, while one man decided to drink all of his.

“I did tell others that their containers would not be allowed. Those who travel a lot know that they do not make exceptions,” said Massimo Barra, head of the Red Cross in Italy, who was on board.

Monsignor Liberio Andreatta, the official on board from the Vatican’s travel agency, did not even try to argue with the rules, to the dismay of the pilgrims.

Many passengers asked the police how they could be foolhardy enough to throw away the miraculous water, according to the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

The spring at the sanctuary at Lourdes, where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared in 1858, is famed for its miraculous healing powers, and every day long queues of believers wait to fill up their containers.

The water is so valuable that one French website, www.lourdes-water.com, is offering a litre for £64.

Despite the hiccup, the new service cut down an difficult overland pilgrimage to two hours.

Cardinal Ruini, the former head of the Italian bishops, was on board, along with Luciano Moggi, the disgraced former head of Juventus football club, who was seeking some spiritual comfort.

The Vatican has promised that seats would cost at least 10 per cent less than the industry average, and that some pilgrims may be able to fly to Lourdes and back in the same day.

It also wants to expand its service to routes such as Fatima in Portugal, Santiago de Compostela in Spain, and possibly even Jerusalem.

Mistral Air, the charter company which is providing the planes for the Vatican, said it expects to transport 150,000 pilgrims annually.

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