The Grand Master with the German pilgrims
“I want to remind you of the motto of our pilgrimage, taken from the second Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians: ‘We see ourselves as those have nothing and yet possess all things’. To see a thousand of you this evening is an impressive sight and some could easily conclude that “we consider ourselves as those who possess (almost) everything'”. With these words, during the mass celebrated in the Church of Santa Sabina, H.M.E.H. the Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing addressed the thousand pilgrims who had arrived in Rome from Germany.
The Malteser Hilfsdienst pilgrimage started out on 31 May from Germany with 29 coaches. 329 sick and disabled were among the thousand pilgrims.
Besides the celebrations in the basilicas of St. Peter, St. Paul outside the Walls and St. Mary Major, the programme of visits to holy places also featured a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday 3 June.
“You are taking new routes to help the needy,” Fra’ Matthew Festing told the Malteser members on the last day of their pilgrimage. “I am referring to your social work and assistance, your palliative care and your commitment to immigrants, where you look after our society’s new victims. These are important challenges for the Order today and they will become even more so in the near future”.
“It is our duty to find and recognize the ‘new poor’. I am firmly convinced that, alongside those who are hungry, we must also attend to those who have been abandoned and live in solitude. You know whom I’m talking about, because you encounter them and look after them during your voluntary service: over two million hours in 2007! May you continue in your extraordinary work.”
After mass in Santa Sabina, the visit to the Magistral Villa rounded off the pilgrimage. “There has been exceptional enthusiasm and the pilgrims have had a very rich spiritual experience that has strengthened their faith,” said Johannes Heereman, President of the Malteser Hilfsdienst, the Order of Malta’s volunteers Corps in Germany.