Grand Master with 600 on Pilgrimage to Assisi
On 7 September there was an extraordinary sight in front of the Papal Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels in Assisi: the immense forecourt had been literally invaded by members of the Order of Malta who, like every year, had gathered here for the traditional pilgrimage in homage to the Blessed Virgin of Mount Philermos, patron saint of the Order.
At the express desire of the Grand Master, Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre del Tempio di Sanguinetto, the Assisi pilgrimage – to celebrate the birth of the Virgin Mary on 8 September – has once again become national with all three of the Italian Grand Priories participating. Hence the massive presence, three times that of previous years, of some 600 knights, dames and volunteers.
Holy Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Angelo Acerbi in the presence of the Grand Master and Grand Commander, Fra’ Ruy Gonçalo do Valle Peixoto de Villas Boas, in the central nave of the basilica, entirely occupied by the Order’s members in church dress.
In his homily, Monsignor Acerbi, Prelate Emeritus, recalled the words of Pope Benedit XVI who in his encyclical “Deus Caritas est” called the Virgin Mary the “mirror of all holiness”: “Mary is a woman who loves, and as a believer, thinks God’s thoughts and wills with God’s will”. Then he urged: “It’s a great programme for our daily life.”
At the end of the mass, the Grand Master and members of the Order – going in procession inside the Porziuncola, one of the most sacred places in St. Francis’ life – paid homage to the Icon of the Blessed Virgin of Mount Philermos. Brought by the Franciscans from Rhodes to Assisi at the end of World War II, the reproduction is on the altar of the right arm of the transept.
The mass was followed by a visit to the magistral residence in the Magione Castle, where afterwards Prof. Vittorio Capuzza gave an update on the Cause of Beatification of the 78th Grand Master, Fra’ Andrew Bertie.