Lourdes: the Order of Malta’s 56th international pilgrimage
Led by Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing, some 1300 malades as well as over 6500 members and volunteers participated in the Order of Malta’s 56th International Pilgrimage to Lourdes.
Coming from 33 countries on all the continents, the pilgrims arrived in Lourdes by 17 airplanes, 5 special trains and an indefinite number of coaches. Just like the last 55 years, this organization has required an enormous logistical effort, said the Grand Master. Meeting the volunteers taking part in the pilgrimage for the first time during the customary ceremony for consigning the participation medals, Fra’ Matthew Festing said to them “there are many ways in which we can continue our pilgrimage once we have returned home. We have thousands of voluntary activities in which it is possible to become involved, or to continue our involvement. The Order of Malta looks after the poor, the elderly, the sick, the disabled and orphans, working in our hospitals, clinics, homes for the elderly, soup kitchens and in our summer camps for the disabled young. I would like to ask each of you present today to find your own way to become involved in these activities, or even to create new ones, so that the spirit of the pilgrimage can be alive every day of the year.”
Together with the Grand Master and members of the Sovereign Council, Cardinals Salvatore De Giorgi, Renato Raffaele Martino, Prosper Grech and Bechara Boutros Al Raï participated in this year’s pilgrimage.
“We have come to confide to Mary our supplications to the Lord, for our own sanctification, for the spiritual, moral and physical healing of our sick, for the peace in Lebanon, Syria, the Holy Land, Iraq, Egypt and the world.” Thus said the Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Béchara Boutros Raï in the Basilica of San Pio X during his homily for the international mass on Sunday 4 May. In the presence of 25,000 faithful from all over the world, including the Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing and the Bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes, Mons. Nicolas Brouwet, the Cardinal continued, saying that : “We have come to pray for the success of the Sovereign Order of Malta in achieving its motto: ‘Tutio fidei, obsequium pauperum’, witness to the faith and love of the poor”.
So many miracles were performed here,” asserted the Cardinal. “The real miracle of everyday, however, is the awakening of the faith and the healing of the soul. We leave this entry way to Heaven, with our burdens reduced, with peace of heart, taking with us the reconciliation, the forgiving of the offences, the regret of the sins and especially, the serenity reflected by a shining smile. Yes, this is the miracle of Lourdes.”