The Grand Master and the Order in pilgrimage to Loreto
Over 1700 pilgrims – knights and dames, doctors, volunteers and the sick -participated from 23 to 25 October last in the Order of Malta’s annual pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of Loreto. Also this year there was the welcome presence of some 170 young volunteers aged between 4 and 16 years, who carried out small tasks for the 280 sick people and entertained them during the three days of encounters and prayer.
Arriving from all over Italy, the participants met up on Friday afternoon for the Mass celebrated by the Archbishop of Loreto, Giovanni Tonucci. In the evening, they attended the evocative Via Lucis inside the basilica where tradition has placed Mary’s Holy House. On Saturday morning, immediately after the Mass celebrated by the Order’s Prelate, Archbishop Angelo Acerbi, the sick were accompanied inside the Holy House to gather in prayer. Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing, arriving after lunch, participated in the Via Crucis, the procession and the Eucharist benediction and, in the evening, in the meditated rosary and the award of the Loreto medals.
The centrality of the family, the primary unit of today’s society threatened by the advancement of ethical relativism, was stressed during the ceremonies, and the dignity of human life from its conception to its natural termination was evoked. God’s love for humanity flows forth to all families in the world from the Holy House, the tabernacle where the Madonna waited to give birth to the Lord of the world and of history, explained the Order’s Grand Commander, Fra’ Gherardo Hercolani Fava Simonetti. For the Order of Malta, he added, the pilgrimage to Loreto is an important appointment for that assistance to the sick that is the core of our hospitaller vocation. Since we can see the face of a suffering Lord Jesus in every sick person, the pilgrimage is a step forward in our path towards the fulness of grace.
The pilgrimage ended on Sunday with the Mass celebrated by the Order’s pro-patron, Archbishop Paolo Sardi.