ROME – A Vatican-backed charter airline service made its inaugural flight Monday, aiming to carry pilgrims to such Catholic shrines as Lourdes, Fatima, Santiago de Compostela and the Holy Land.
The flights, scheduled to start regular service next year, are tailored to the pilgrims’ needs, with inscriptions such as "I search for Your face, Lord," decorating the seats, and religious videos shown on board.
"We want to create the conditions to enable pilgrims to live their pilgrimage starting at their city’s airport and even before they arrive at their destinations," said the Rev. Caesar Atuire, CEO for the "Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi," an outfit that organizes pilgrimages for the Diocese of Rome.
Well this is not exactly a Vatican back operation. More accurately it is one backed by Cardinal Ruini and the Italian Bishop’s Conference and was started to help increase tourism in the Holy Land, but it looks like it is expanding operations.
Though I would love to see a real Vatican Airline or as some articles headlined last week "Airway to Heaven."
Now of course thinking about Vatican Air can lead to much fun to think about what type of service you would get.
- They have no schedules and will only tell you "Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last."
- When boarding you always have to enter through the "Narrow gate."
- Everybody gets the same seating arrangement because with Vatican Air there are no Jews, Greeks, Male, Female, Business Class, Economy, or First Class.
- They use nuns as stewardesses and will rap your knuckles if you forget to say grace before eating your package of peanuts.
- After the nuns demonstrate how to exit the aircraft and how to use the oxygen masks, they demonstrate how to pray the Rosary available in the compartment on the back of each seat. They also tell the passengers "The Parable of the Unjust Stewardess."
- You never have to worry about the pilot being raptured because Catholics don’t fall for that fairly recent teleological innovation.
- Flight insurance includes a fund that will pay stipends to a monastery of your choice that will have Masses said for you in case of a fatal accident.
- There is always a priest onboard trained to quickly give general absolutions in case of an in flight emergency. Otherwise passengers may use the in flight confessionals. When using the in flight confessional make sure you slide the sign to occupied.
- You get to offer up turbulence and airline food.
- Not only is the seat a flotation device but it can also be used as a kneeler.
- Dominicans, Franciscans, Carmelites and males from some other orders are eligible for Frequent Friar Miles.
- If Vatican Air loses your luggage St. Anthony is immediately invoked.
- You never have to worry that your aircrew includes Pontius Pilot.
- Connecting flights are made with Holy Virgin airlines.