7000 in Lourdes for the Order of Malta’s 58th International Pilgrimage
The Order of Malta’s 58th international pilgrimage to the Marian shrine of Lourdes has now ended.
From 29 April to 4 May some 7000 members and volunteers, including 1500 malades, gathered in the town at the foot of the Pyrenees. Grand Master Fra’ Matthew Festing encountered the participants during the traditional awarding of medals to those participating for the first time. In welcoming the pilgrims, this year coming from 44 countries on five continents, Fra’ Matthew Festing recalled that “our work here in these days is to help our beloved malades and to make our pilgrimage with them. The real reason for which we are here is the call of the Virgin, and the hope of the sick which is also our hope”. The Grand Master gave a warm and special greeting to pilgrims from Albania, Kenya, Senegal, Palestine, Syria and Iraq.
In this Jubilee year, there was a great significance in passing through the Door of Mercy at the Saint Michel’s Gate entrance to the sanctuary. For almost an hour and a half, under a threatening sky and sometimes accompanied by rain, the Order’s volunteers carried out the rite of passage with their malades before gathering in the underground basilica for the Eucharist procession.
The Pontifical Mass was celebrated on Sunday in the crowded Basilica of St. Pius X by Raymond Leo Burke, Cardinalis Patronus, at his second pilgrimage to Lourdes with the Order of Malta. In his homily the cardinal said: “the readings today of the Holy Scripture induce those of us who are members of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta to reflect on the wisdom of the twofold rule that guides and determines all our actions: defence of the faith, or fidelity to the truth of Christ, and assistance to the poor, or fidelity to the love of Christ. When we faithfully adhere to everything that Christ teaches us in the Church, then we are ready to bring to the poor, and especially to the sick, that which they need: the love of Christ that always heals and strengthens even with the greatest suffering”.